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Safety Reports Series

No.34

Radiation Protection
and the Management of
Radioactive Waste in
the Oil and Gas Industry
IAEA SAFETY RELATED PUBLICATIONS

IAEA SAFETY STANDARDS


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standards to peaceful nuclear activities.
The regulatory related publications by means of which the IAEA establishes safety
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Fundamentals, Safety Requirements and Safety Guides.
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safety and protection in the development and application of nuclear energy for peaceful
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OTHER SAFETY RELATED PUBLICATIONS


Under the terms of Articles III and VIII.C of its Statute, the IAEA makes available and
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Reports on safety and protection in nuclear activities are issued in other series, in
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RADIATION PROTECTION
AND THE MANAGEMENT OF
RADIOACTIVE WASTE IN
THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY
The following States are Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency:

AFGHANISTAN GUATEMALA PERU


ALBANIA HAITI PHILIPPINES
ALGERIA HOLY SEE POLAND
ANGOLA HONDURAS PORTUGAL
ARGENTINA HUNGARY QATAR
ARMENIA ICELAND
REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA
AUSTRALIA INDIA
ROMANIA
AUSTRIA INDONESIA
AZERBAIJAN IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION
BANGLADESH IRAQ SAUDI ARABIA
BELARUS IRELAND SENEGAL
BELGIUM ISRAEL SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
BENIN ITALY SEYCHELLES
BOLIVIA JAMAICA SIERRA LEONE
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA JAPAN SINGAPORE
BOTSWANA JORDAN SLOVAKIA
BRAZIL KAZAKHSTAN SLOVENIA
BULGARIA KENYA
SOUTH AFRICA
BURKINA FASO KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
SPAIN
CAMEROON KUWAIT
CANADA KYRGYZSTAN SRI LANKA
CENTRAL AFRICAN LATVIA SUDAN
REPUBLIC LEBANON SWEDEN
CHILE LIBERIA SWITZERLAND
CHINA LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
COLOMBIA LIECHTENSTEIN TAJIKISTAN
COSTA RICA LITHUANIA THAILAND
CÔTE D’IVOIRE LUXEMBOURG THE FORMER YUGOSLAV
CROATIA MADAGASCAR REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
CUBA MALAYSIA
TUNISIA
CYPRUS MALI
TURKEY
CZECH REPUBLIC MALTA
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC MARSHALL ISLANDS UGANDA
OF THE CONGO MAURITIUS UKRAINE
DENMARK MEXICO UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MONACO UNITED KINGDOM OF
ECUADOR MONGOLIA GREAT BRITAIN AND
EGYPT MOROCCO NORTHERN IRELAND
EL SALVADOR MYANMAR UNITED REPUBLIC
ERITREA NAMIBIA OF TANZANIA
ESTONIA NETHERLANDS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ETHIOPIA NEW ZEALAND
URUGUAY
FINLAND NICARAGUA
UZBEKISTAN
FRANCE NIGER
GABON NIGERIA VENEZUELA
GEORGIA NORWAY VIETNAM
GERMANY PAKISTAN YEMEN
GHANA PANAMA ZAMBIA
GREECE PARAGUAY ZIMBABWE

The Agency’s Statute was approved on 23 October 1956 by the Conference on the Statute of
the IAEA held at United Nations Headquarters, New York; it entered into force on 29 July 1957.
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© IAEA, 2003
Permission to reproduce or translate the information contained in this publication may be
obtained by writing to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Wagramer Strasse 5, P.O. Box 100,
A-1400 Vienna, Austria.
Printed by the IAEA in Austria
November 2003
STI/PUB/1171
SAFETY REPORTS SERIES No. 34

RADIATION PROTECTION
AND THE MANAGEMENT OF
RADIOACTIVE WASTE IN
THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY


VIENNA, 2003
IAEA Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Radiation protection and the management of radioactive waste in the oil


and gas industry. — Vienna : International Atomic Energy Agency,
2003.
p. ; 24 cm. — (Safety reports series, ISSN 1020–6450 ; no. 34)
STI/PUB/1171
ISBN 92–0–114003–7
Includes bibliographical references.

1. Radiation. — Safety measures 2. Petroleum industry and trade


— Safety measures. 3. Oil industry — Safety measures. 4. Gas
industry — Safety measures. 5. Radioactive waste disposal — Safety
measures. I. International Atomic Energy Agency. II. Series.

IAEAL 03–00342
FOREWORD

The oil and gas industry, a global industry operating in many Member
States, makes extensive use of radiation generators and sealed and unsealed
radioactive sources, some of which are potentially dangerous to human health
and to the environment if not properly controlled. In addition, significant
quantities of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) originating
from the reservoir rock are encountered during production, maintenance and
decommissioning. The oil and gas industry operates in all climates and environ-
ments, including the most arduous conditions, and is continuously challenged to
achieve high efficiency of operation while maintaining a high standard of safety
and control — this includes the need to maintain control over occupational
exposures to radiation, as well as to protect the public and the environment
through the proper management of wastes that may be radiologically and
chemically hazardous. The oil and gas industry is organizationally and techni-
cally complex, and relies heavily on specialized service and supply companies
to provide the necessary equipment and expertise, including expertise in
radiation safety.
The Safety Fundamentals on Radiation Protection and the Safety of
Radiation Sources (Safety Series No. 120), together with the International
Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the
Safety of Radiation Sources (Safety Series No. 115), set out the principles and
basic requirements for radiation protection and safety applicable to all activ-
ities involving radiation exposure. The Safety Guide on Occupational
Radiation Protection (Safety Standards Series No. RS-G-1.1) provides
guidance on meeting the occupational protection requirements of the Interna-
tional Basic Safety Standards. The Principles of Radioactive Waste
Management (Safety Series No. 111-F) present the objectives and principles of
radioactive waste management, while the Safety Requirements on Predisposal
Management of Radioactive Waste, Including Decommissioning (Safety
Standards Series No. WS-R-2) set out the requirements for the predisposal
aspect of radioactive waste management: requirements with respect to disposal
are under development. The Safety Guide on Management of Radioactive
Waste from the Mining and Milling of Ores (Safety Standards Series No.
WS-G-1.2) provides some relevant guidance for the management of NORM
wastes similar to those produced in the oil and gas industry. Some of the
guidance provided in two other Safety Guides: Decommissioning of Medical,
Industrial and Research Facilities (Safety Standards Series No. WS-G-2.2) and
Regulatory Control of Radioactive Discharges to the Environment (Safety
Standards Series No. WS-G-2.3) is also relevant to the oil and gas industry.
The purpose of this Safety Report is to provide practical information,
based on good working practices, on radiation protection and radioactive waste
management in the oil and gas industry. It is intended to assist in meeting the
relevant radiation safety requirements and promoting a common under-
standing between the industry and regulatory bodies. The Safety Report will be
of interest to regulatory bodies; oil and gas field operators and support
companies; workers and their representatives; health, safety and environ-
mental professionals; and health and safety training officers.
This Safety Report was drafted and finalized in six consultants meetings
and one Technical Committee meeting, held during the period 1997–2002. The
draft was also sent to a number of additional experts, yielding valuable
comments from reviewers whose names are included in the list of contributors
to drafting and review. In addition, the draft formed the basis for a regional
workshop, held in the Syrian Arab Republic in 2000. Particular acknowl-
edgement is paid to the contributions made to the preparation of this Safety
Report by M.S. Al-Masri, T. Cardwell, A. van Weers and R. Wheelton.
The IAEA technical officer responsible for this report was D.G. Wymer
of the Division of Radiation and Waste Safety.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Although great care has been taken to maintain the accuracy of information
contained in this publication, neither the IAEA nor its Member States assume any
responsibility for consequences which may arise from its use.
The use of particular designations of countries or territories does not imply any
judgement by the publisher, the IAEA, as to the legal status of such countries or territories,
of their authorities and institutions or of the delimitation of their boundaries.
The mention of names of specific companies or products (whether or not indicated
as registered) does not imply any intention to infringe proprietary rights, nor should it be
construed as an endorsement or recommendation on the part of the IAEA.
The authors are responsible for having obtained the necessary permission for the
IAEA to reproduce, translate or use material from sources already protected by
copyrights.
CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

1.1. Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.2. Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.3. Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.4. Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

2. THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

2.1. Industry structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4


2.2. Rigs and drilling methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.2.1. Rigs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.2.2. Drilling and well construction methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.2.3. Well completions, development and workovers . . . . . . 9
2.2.4. Topside plant and downstream equipment . . . . . . . . . . 10

3. SEALED RADIATION SOURCES AND RADIATION


GENERATORS IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . . 12

3.1. Industrial radiography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


3.2. Installed gauges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.3. Mobile gauging equipment and articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.4. Well logging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.4.1. Logging tools and techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.4.2. Additional uses of sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.5. Safety of sealed sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.5.1. Sealed sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.5.2. Radiation safety in normal working conditions . . . . . . 25
3.5.3. High exposure and overexposure to
radiation sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
3.5.4. Lost or misplaced sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
3.5.5. Retrieval of disconnected sources from a well . . . . . . . 29
3.5.6. Physical damage to sources, containers and
other equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
3.5.7. Site emergencies, natural disasters and strife . . . . . . . . 35
3.6. Waste management of sealed sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.6.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.6.2. Waste minimization strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.6.3. Waste inventories and characterization . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.6.4. Waste storage facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.6.5. Predisposal management of radioactive waste . . . . . . . 37
3.6.6. Disposal methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
3.6.7. Transport of radioactive waste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
3.6.8. Record keeping and reporting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

4. UNSEALED RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES


IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

4.1. Radiotracer and marker studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38


4.1.1. Unsealed radioactive materials used as tracers
and markers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
4.1.2. Examples of the upstream use of radiotracers
and markers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.1.3. Examples of the downstream use of radiotracers
and markers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
4.2. Safety of unsealed radioactive materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.2.1. Preparation of radiotracers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.2.2. Work with radiotracers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.2.3. Accidents involving radiotracer material . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.3. Waste management of unsealed sources and materials . . . . . . 46
4.3.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
4.3.2. Waste minimization strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.3.3. Waste inventories and characterization . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
4.3.4. Waste storage facilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
4.3.5. Predisposal management of radioactive waste . . . . . . . 48
4.3.6. Disposal methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
4.3.7. Transport of radioactive waste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
4.3.8. Record keeping and reporting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

5. NORM IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

5.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
5.2. Origin and radiological characteristics of NORM . . . . . . . . . . . 50
5.3. Main forms of appearance of NORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
5.4. Radionuclide concentrations in NORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
5.5. Radiation protection aspects of NORM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
5.5.1. External exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.5.2. Internal exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.5.3. Decontamination of plant and equipment . . . . . . . . . . . 60
5.5.4. Practical radiation protection measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
5.6. Waste management considerations with respect to NORM . . 64
5.6.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
5.6.2. Wastes from the decontamination of plant
and equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
5.6.3. Waste management strategy and programmes . . . . . . . 66
5.6.4. Characteristics of NORM wastes in the oil
and gas industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
5.6.5. Disposal methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

6. DECOMMISSIONING OF OIL AND GAS


PRODUCTION FACILITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

6.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
6.2. Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
6.3. Key issues and activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

7. ORGANIZATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES
AND TRAINING IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . 84

7.1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
7.2. Regulatory bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
7.3. The operating organization (operator) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
7.4. Service companies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
7.5. Workers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

APPENDIX I: RADIATION MONITORING IN THE


WORKPLACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
APPENDIX II: METHODS FOR THE DECONTAMINATION
OF PLANT AND EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
APPENDIX III: TRAINING COURSES FOR PERSONS
WORKING WITH IONIZING RADIATION
IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
APPENDIX IV: METHODS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE
CHARACTERIZATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
DEFINITIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
CONTRIBUTORS TO DRAFTING AND REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. BACKGROUND

The oil and gas industry is a global industry that operates in many of the
Member States of the IAEA. There are several sectors in the industry,
including:

(a) The construction sector responsible for manufacturing and fabricating


facilities and equipment,
(b) The exploration sector responsible for finding and evaluating new
resources,
(c) The production sector responsible for developing and exploiting
commercially viable oil and gas fields,
(d) ‘Downstream’ sectors dealing with transport of the raw materials and
their processing into saleable products,
(e) Marketing sectors responsible for the transport and distribution of the
finished products.

Radioactive materials, sealed sources and radiation generators are used


extensively by the oil and gas industry, and various solid and liquid wastes
containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) are produced.
The presence of these radioactive materials and radiation generators results in
the need to control occupational and public exposures to ionizing radiation.
Various radioactive wastes are produced in the oil and gas industry,
including the following:

(a) Discrete sealed sources, e.g. spent and disused sealed sources;
(b) Unsealed sources, e.g. tracers;
(c) Contaminated items;
(d) Wastes arising from decontamination activities, e.g. scales and sludges.

These wastes are generated predominantly in solid and liquid forms and
may contain artificial or naturally occurring radionuclides with a wide range of
half-lives.
The oil and gas companies themselves are not experts in every aspect of
the technology applied in their industry. Frequently, the necessary expertise is
provided to the industry by specialized support organizations. Obviously, it is in
the interests of the oil and gas industry to demonstrate an appropriate standard
of basic radiation safety, environmental control and waste management, and to

1
have a common understanding of requirements and controls to establish
efficient and safe operations.
The IAEA establishes principles, requirements and guidance with respect
to radiation protection and safety in its Safety Standards Series publications,
comprising Safety Fundamentals, Safety Requirements and Safety Guides. The
Safety Guide on Occupational Radiation Protection [1] provides general
guidance on the control of occupational exposures. This guidance is based on
the requirements contained in the International Basic Safety Standards for
Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources
(BSS) [2]. The objectives, concepts and principles of radioactive waste
management are presented in the Safety Fundamentals publication on The
Principles of Radioactive Waste Management [3].
The guidance material presented in Safety Guides is supplemented by a
number of Safety Reports on specific issues.

1.2. OBJECTIVE

The objective of this Safety Report is to address the issues associated with
radiation protection and radioactive waste management in the oil and gas
industry and to promote a common understanding between the industry and
regulatory bodies. It provides practical guidance based on good working
practices in the industry and on the application of the BSS [2].

1.3. SCOPE

This Safety Report describes the technologies that involve the use of
radioactive materials and radiation generators and situations where NORM is
encountered within the various oil and gas industry sectors. It provides specific
guidance on:

(a) Ensuring the radiological health, safety and welfare of workers, the public
and the environment;
(b) The safe management of radioactive waste;
(c) Training in radiation safety.

It forms a framework within which the regulatory bodies of Member


States, oil and gas field operators, service companies and workers can develop a
common understanding.

2
The Report reviews the applications of ionizing radiation at onshore and
offshore oil and gas industry facilities, transport and distribution systems, and
service company bases. Good working practices are described for the following
work activities and situations which involve potential exposure to ionizing
radiation and radioactive materials:

(a) Industrial radiography, including underwater radiography;


(b) Use of installed gauges, including those used to make level and density
measurements;
(c) Use of portable gauging equipment;
(d) Well logging, including ‘measurement while drilling’ and wireline
techniques;
(e) Work with radiotracers;
(f) Generation, accumulation and disposal of NORM and the decontami-
nation of equipment contaminated by NORM;
(g) Radioactive waste management;
(h) Accidents involving radioactive sources and materials.

1.4. STRUCTURE

This Safety Report comprises seven sections, four appendices and a list of
definitions. Section 2 describes the basic technology and terminology
associated with the oil and gas industry, the typical construction of oil and gas
wells, and the processes in which ionizing radiation is applied. Section 3 covers
the applications of sealed sources and radiation generators, the types of source
used, and their radiation protection and radioactive waste safety aspects.
Section 4 deals with the use of unsealed radioactive substances, their radiation
protection aspects and the management of radioactive waste arising from their
regular use and from accidents. The origin and deposition of NORM in oil and
gas production, NORM treatment and NORM transport facilities are
described in Section 5. Section 5 also discusses radiation protection measures in
dealing with NORM and the options for managing and disposing of the
different types of waste arising at oil and gas facilities and at decontamination
plants. Section 6 discusses the strategy, key issues and activities associated with
the decommissioning of oil and gas facilities, including planning, licensee
responsibilities and waste management issues. Section 7 summarizes the duties
and responsibilities of all parties involved in order to:

(a) Protect the radiological health, safety and welfare of workers involved;
(b) Promote co-operation;

3
(c) Achieve an appropriate standard of radiation protection and radioactive
waste management;
(d) Protect the public from exposure to radiation and the environment from
radioactive contamination.

The Report recognizes the importance of information, training and


supervision for those who have to carry out duties and meet their responsibil-
ities. Detailed guidance on radiation monitoring, decontamination methods,
training, and radioactive waste characterization is provided in the Appendices.

2. THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

This section describes the structure of the oil and gas industry, the
fundamental terminology and the general methods used in oil and gas recovery
processes. An understanding of these aspects is essential to appreciate the
many applications of human-made radiation sources and generators, and the
existence of NORM, associated with this industry and to which reference is
made in later sections.
The industry operates in all climates and environments, and under the
most arduous conditions. Technology and organizations are challenged contin-
uously to achieve high efficiency while maintaining a high standard of safety
and control. Regulatory bodies are required to keep pace with the operational
and technological developments in order to retain control with respect to
national interests relevant to safety, health and the environment.

2.1. INDUSTRY STRUCTURE

The oil and gas industry involves a wide range of organizations,


companies and individuals in the mapping and evaluation of geological
formations, the development and maintenance of facilities to extract and
process natural hydrocarbon resources, and the distribution of their products.
Although some reserves are extracted at low to moderate production rates by
‘independent’ oil and gas companies of relatively small size, the industry is
dominated by a limited number of ‘majors’ — multinational organizations large
enough to mobilize resources, equipment and personnel on a global scale.
Some countries have State-owned oil and gas companies.

4
The industry is organizationally and technically complex and conse-
quently has developed an extensive and specific vocabulary. It often occurs that
a number of oil and gas companies invest in the development of a particular
field and an operator is appointed with responsibility for managing the
development and production of the field. The operator usually establishes
contracts with numerous service companies and supply companies that provide
the necessary equipment and expertise. The work of such companies may
include the use of radioactive sources and machines that generate ionizing
radiation, which, to the uninitiated, may not be immediately apparent. The
radioactive source may be incorporated as an essential component of a larger
piece of equipment that is shipped to a field or it may be a significant item that
utilizes ionizing radiation and which is mentioned only in technical terms in
shipping, technical, or similar documentation. In these circumstances, the
regulatory bodies that have to exercise control over the import, transport and
use of radioactive materials and machines must be informed accordingly.

2.2. RIGS AND DRILLING METHODS

2.2.1. Rigs

The search for oil and gas and the development of discovered resources
are conducted on land and at sea. Oil and gas rigs for exploration on land are
designed for portability, and support services that employ self-contained, fully
equipped road vehicles (Fig. 1) are provided by companies. Inland barge rigs
may be used in marshy conditions. All the necessary tools and equipment for
the work, including radiation sources as appropriate, will be mobilized. At sea,
the necessary mobility to explore for reserves is provided by the use of floater
rigs such as ‘jackups’, submersibles, semisubmersibles (‘semisubs’) and drill
ships. The first two floaters mentioned operate in shallow waters and sit on the
seabed to achieve stability before well drilling begins. The last two operate in
deeper water and attain stability by either partially submerging (in the case of
semisubs) or by using other means such as thrusters linked to satellite naviga-
tional aids to remain on station over the drill site. When oil or gas is discovered,
a production platform or installation is placed over the well or, in deeper
waters, production floaters may be used. Offshore platforms and installations
are constructed using large diameter steel pipe or cement to provide columnar
support in the form of a ‘jacket’ which is usually cemented to the seabed.
Modules are built on top of the jacket (Fig. 2) to accommodate crew and
production equipment. The development of a field may involve numerous wells

5
FIG. 1. Heavy duty wireline truck.

being drilled from a platform, and the use of topside plant and equipment to
separate and process the oil, gas, water and solids that flow from the well(s).
The wells are not necessarily drilled vertically; directional drilling allows them
to be deviated in preferred directions through strata, even horizontally, over
considerable distances and depths. The same topside plant and equipment may
be used to serve separate fields or remote satellite fields.

2.2.2. Drilling and well construction methods

Most wells are formed by rotary drilling techniques. Referring to Fig. 3,


the familiar mast or derrick supports a drill string which comprises a large
hook-like device called the swivel, a square or hexagonal hollow pipe called the
‘kelly’, a drill pipe (D), a thicker-walled drill pipe called the drill collar (C), and
the drill bit (B). On the drill floor, a clamp-like device in the rotary table grips
the kelly and rotates the drill string causing the bit to ‘make hole’. The heavy
drill collar (up to approximately 30 m in 10 m lengths) causes the bit to grind
into the rock. As the hole being drilled gets deeper, the joint between the kelly
and the drill pipe is broken (unscrewed) and additional lengths of drill pipe in
about 10 m lengths are added. As drilling continues, a pump (P) forces drilling
fluid or ‘mud’ down the inside of the drill string to the bit from where it returns
up the annulus between the drill string and the wall of the hole bringing the
rock cuttings to the surface. On the surface, the cuttings are removed by the
shale shaker (S) and the mud may be desanded, desilted or degassed before

6
FIG. 2. Offshore production platform.

7
being returned to the mud pits or tanks (T) for recirculation. In addition to
lifting the cuttings, drilling mud exerts pressures that help to keep underground
(oil, gas and water) pressures under control. The mud also deposits a clay
veneer on the wall of the open hole to prevent it caving in or ‘sloughing’. The
density and consistency of drilling mud is carefully controlled; this process may
involve the use of radiation sources. In case of an uncontrollable gas or oil flow
occurring during the drilling, a so-called blow-out preventer (BOP) can be
closed by remote control. This BOP is situated below the drill floor. While
closing, the BOP will cut the drill string and other equipment that is within this
safety valve.

FIG. 3. Oil well drilling and components of the circulation system.

8
The open hole is next ‘cased’ by lowering (‘running’) into it a large
diameter casing string. This is steel pipe normally fitted with external apparatus
such as centralizers, scratchers and collars. One of their purposes is to maintain
the casing coaxial with the hole; other functions may demand the installation
of radiation sources. A cement slurry is pumped down to the bottom of the
casing from where it then rises to fill the annulus between the casing and the
wall of the hole. Drilling may continue in a cased hole, resulting in a well with a
surface casing, intermediate casing and the final production hole through the
formation of interest where oil or gas may be located. Tests carried out by a
well logging company, some of which will utilize radiation sources [4], will
determine whether a well is viable and worth completing or is abandoned as a
dry test well.

2.2.3. Well completions, development and workovers

Radioactive materials may also be used while completing a well, a


procedure which involves cementing in the final section of production casing
and then perforating the production casing in the ‘pay zone’ to allow the oil or
gas to flow from the formation. Oil, gas, water and solids are brought to the
surface through small diameter production tubing, which is first fixed coaxial
with the casing. A packer, expanded just above the pay zone on the outside of
the production tubing string, prevents the fluids from rising up the annulus. The
production tubing is suspended from a collection of valves called the
‘Christmas tree’, installed at the well-head at the top of the casing, which
enables the flow of fluids to be controlled. Other emergency valves, termed
subsurface safety valves, are usually mounted below the Christmas tree in the
tubing of the well or possibly on the seabed in the case of offshore oil and gas
fields.
Periodically, workovers are carried out to replace production tubing or to
allow necessary maintenance on the well. A number of techniques involving
radioactive materials may be used to assess the success of techniques used to
stimulate the flow of oil and gas from a formation that is found to have low
permeability in the pay zone. ‘Acidizing’ involves injecting acid to dissolve, for
example, limestone or dolomite. Fracturing involves injecting a special fluid at
very high pressure to break open the rocks. Proppants such as sand, walnut
husks and aluminium pellets are mixed with the fracturing fluid to keep open
the fractures when the pressure is allowed to dissipate. Similarly, radioactive
materials are used to monitor other techniques to enhance recovery and
thereby increase the amount of recoverable reserves. These techniques include
gas lift and ‘waterflood’ in which some of the wells (injection wells) are used to

9
inject water back into a selected region of the formation to drive reserves
towards the producing wells.
In order to enhance recovery from existing facilities, ‘sidetracks’ or lateral
wells may be drilled from existing wellbores into new parts of the field (for
example, oil pockets) or a nearby reservoir. Conventionally, this involves
removing the existing completion, inserting a ‘whipstock’ (a drill deflector
wedge) where the drilling assembly is to leave the old wellbore and then
running a new completion after the sidetrack has been drilled. Such well devel-
opments and workovers increasingly incorporate technological advances in
coiled tubing techniques. Coiled tubing is small bore steel pipe, up to almost
8 km in length, mounted on a reel. An injector head connected to the wellhead
pushes the coiled tubing through special seals into the wellbore. After a special
milling tool has cut a ‘window’ through the old completion, coiled tubing fitted
with a bottom hole assembly, comprising a drill bit, directional control
equipment and a drill motor powered by the fluids pumped through the tubing,
can be used to form the sidetrack. Measurement signals are continually sent
from the downhole drilling assembly to the surface, enabling the drilling
assembly to be guided along the desired path to the target formation. Such
measurements, taken while drilling is in progress, may require the use of
radioactive sources. The new wellbore can be lined with tubing or left
‘barefoot’ to allow oil to flow into the old production system.

2.2.4. Topside plant and downstream equipment

Production tubing carries fluids and solids to the surface where, in the
case of offshore oil and gas fields, they will enter risers that carry them to sea
level. The risers are usually not rigid steel pipes but flexible pipes — referred to
as umbilicals — connected to floating production rigs and ships. Entering the
production plant above water (topside), the flow of fluids and solids is
controlled by the Christmas trees and directed into a manifold and then
through several large, usually cylindrical, vessels termed separators which allow
the solids to settle and the water, oil and gas to separate into streams. The
streams are subjected to further treatments to remove oil from the water and
noxious compounds, such as hydrogen sulphide, from the gas. The water may
then be either reinjected or discharged; the natural gas will be exported, flared
or used to generate power for production purposes. The crude oil may be
transported immediately by pipeline for refining or held in vessels awaiting
appropriate transport arrangements by tankers. Under certain circumstances,
NORM may be deposited with other solids in the well tubulars, topside plant,
and downstream equipment such as storage, transport and treatment systems.

10
Solid deposits in the crude oil and gas pipelines are removed periodically
by driving solid plastic or rubber plugs down the pipeline under the fluid
pressure. These plugs, called ‘pigs’, are released from pig launchers upstream
and retrieved from pig traps downstream, possibly in the refinery or petro-
chemical site (Fig. 4).
Oil refining and the processing of petrochemicals are complex subjects, a
description of which is beyond the scope of this publication. The processes
involve mixing and heating chemicals and materials under carefully controlled
conditions. Industrial chemical sites feature a range of very large vessels
interlinked by pipework. Automation provides chemical plants with a higher
degree of safety and efficiency than would be feasible by manually operated
valves and controls used to transfer materials between the vessels. The vessels
are usually identified by names that indicate their function such as distillation
columns, exchangers, reactors, absorption towers. Radioactive materials are
used to significant advantage in these process controls. They also feature in
investigations to assess the efficiency of a plant, determine the reasons for
poorly performing processes or material transfers and, in general, pinpoint
where problems are occurring, often without the need to interrupt production
or to open systems that may be pressurized.

FIG. 4. Pipeline pig trap (courtesy: Atomic Energy Commission of Syria).

11
3. SEALED RADIATION SOURCES AND RADIATION
GENERATORS IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

3.1. INDUSTRIAL RADIOGRAPHY

Oil and gas operators commonly employ service companies that carry out
industrial radiography. Radiography is a form of non-destructive testing (NDT)
performed to provide quality assurance during engineering projects. The oil
and gas industry uses gamma radiography, and to a lesser extent X radiography,
to ensure that all constructions and fabrications are completed to the required
standard. It is essential that all components and connections, particularly welds
in the plant and equipment, withstand the very high physical forces (for
example, forces generated by hydrostatic pressures) associated with oil and gas
production. Radiography is carried out during the construction and
maintenance of rigs and platforms, particularly during the development of the
plant and equipment above the waterline. It is also commonly used when
pipelines are being laid and prior to the ‘hook up’ when the production and
export systems are to be connected. The radiation sources, equipment and safe
operating procedures associated with site radiography, which is commonly
carried out, are described elsewhere [5, 6].
The radiography service companies usually set up independent bases
close to construction yards and other land based facilities where oil and gas are
processed. These facilities enable them to store and maintain their radiation
sources and ancillary equipment and to be ready to carry out specific jobs on
demand. Where the oil or gas field being developed or worked is in a more
remote location, such as offshore, a radiography service company typically has
a permanent presence, often in facilities made available by the operator.
Radiographers will follow the construction phase overland during pipe laying
projects. They are typically crew members on pipelaying barges when subsea
pipelines are installed between oil and gas production installations and their
processing facilities and markets. X ray and gamma pipeline crawlers are
normally used on pipe laying barges and in the field during the construction of
overland pipelines.
The oil and gas production industry contracts out underwater
radiography almost exclusively. The work is usually carried out to examine
seabed pipelines, subsea assemblies and platforms or rigs below the waterline.
Different service companies may employ the divers and radiographers. The
radiography company may subcontract the services (or rent equipment) to a
specialist diving company. Alternatively, the operator may manage the workers

12
directly. These approaches demand close supervision and co-operation from
the separate service companies that specialize in diving and radiography.

3.2. INSTALLED GAUGES

‘Nuclear (or nucleonic) gauges’ are installed extensively on plant and


equipment associated with the oil and gas industry [7]. Each gauge usually
comprises one or more radioactive sources associated with at least one
radiation detector. Typically, 137Cs sources are used with activities of up to
5 GBq and occasionally up to 100 GBq, depending on the physical dimensions
of the plant and the purpose of the gauge. The gauges are normally installed in
a transmission mode (rather than a backscatter mode), meaning that the
radiation penetrates the medium but is attenuated to a measurable extent
before it reaches the detector. The source usually remains installed in a steel or
lead housing of about 30 cm in diameter, fixed to the side of the vessel or
pipeline; the radiation detectors are mounted diametrically opposite the source
housing on the wall of the vessel or pipeline (Fig. 5). The radiation intensity at
the detector depends on the density of the contents of the vessel or pipeline.
More penetrating gamma radiation from a 60Co source is needed for the vessels
of largest diameter or greatest wall thickness or for denser media contained in

FIG. 5. Installed density gauge (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

13
the vessel or pipeline. An alternative arrangement involves attaching the
source to the end of a cable which is used to move the source from the housing
into a closed dip tube inside the vessel. The tube helps to protect the source and
defines a fixed geometry, allowing an adjustable distance between the source
and the detector.
Gauges are installed to monitor or control the density of fluid flowing
through pipelines, for example on lines carrying cement slurry to ‘grout in’ (to
cement with liquid mortar) a casing string, and on crude oil export lines.
Gauges (photon switches) are also installed to monitor and control fluid
levels in vessels and to detect the interface between fluids of different densities,
such as the water, oil and gas interfaces in separators. They may also be
installed on vessels such as mud tanks, the flare knockout drum, export gas
scrubbers and vent headers of storage tanks. Level gauges have been installed
in locations which render the gauges irretrievable, such as in the jacket legs of
offshore platforms to indicate, as the legs are grouted into the seabed, that the
cement slurry has risen to the required level in the outside portion of the leg.
Their use is equally common downstream in oil refineries and petrochemical
facilities.
The source housings of installed gauges are often brightly coloured and
labelled with radiation warning signs to make them clearly visible, even when
they are mounted at a height or are otherwise inaccessible. It is important that
they are fixed to the pipeline or vessel in such a manner that no space is left
between the housing and the vessel or pipeline, and that access to the radiation
beam cannot be gained. A control lever or other mechanism is usually provided
on the source housing to allow a shutter inside the housing to be closed and the
radiation beam to be shielded. This permits the shutter to be closed and locked
in that position before allowing either (a) vessel entry (assuming that the
housing is attached to the outside of a vessel) or (b) removal of the housing
from its installed position. The shutter is not locked in the open position. If it is
necessary to hold the shutter open to counter equipment vibration, a device
that is easily removable in the event of an emergency, such as a shear pin, may
be fitted to the shutter mechanism. Specific radiological safety recommenda-
tions for installed gauges are provided elsewhere [8, 9].

3.3. MOBILE GAUGING EQUIPMENT AND ARTICLES

Numerous mobile gauging devices that utilize radiation, as well as other


articles that contain radioactive substances, are used in the oil and gas industry,
especially by service companies. These include small articles such as smoke
detectors and self-luminous signs (‘beta lights’ containing gaseous tritium),

14
FIG. 6. Mobile gauge for detecting the level of liquids in closed fire extinguisher
cylinders (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

hand-held testing instruments, and larger pieces of equipment intended


primarily for use only at service companies’ bases.
Fire protection equipment service companies commonly use hand-held
level gauges to determine the fluid level in fire extinguisher bottles and
cylinders. Attached to the same long handle are two short probes, one
containing a 137Cs source of several megabecquerels and the other a radiation
detector (Fig. 6). As the probes are moved up either side of an extinguisher
bottle a signal from the detector provides a reading on a meter. The level of
fluid is indicated when the detector indicates a change in the intensity of
attenuated radiation. A similar hand-held probe containing a 241Am–Be source
is used primarily by NDT service companies to detect water trapped between
the lagging (insulation) and the insulated surface of a pipe or vessel. Fast (high
energy) neutrons emitted by the source are ‘thermalized’ (reduced in energy)
and scattered back to a detector in the probe if water is trapped behind the
lagging. Water discovered using this procedure can then be released before it
causes corrosion which would weaken the pipe.
The pipe wall profiler is an example of the larger sized equipment. It
contains a 137Cs source of several gigabecquerels and a detector mounted on an
annulus and is used to check the wall thickness and uniformity of steel pipes

15
intended for use in tubing strings. The annulus revolves at high speed around
the axis of each pipe while the pipe is moved through the centre of the annulus.
The service company issues certificates to indicate that the tubes are of an
appropriate standard to be used in the high temperature and pressure
environment of an oil or gas well.
Mobile level gauge systems incorporating appropriate sealed radiation
sources are commonly used to determine the height of a fluid level or an
interface between different fluids. One such investigation is carried out on
offshore platforms to determine the level of potentially corrosive water ingress
into the subsea sections of flooded members. The gauging system is either
manipulated by divers or attached to the remotely operated vehicle of
a miniature submarine. Other examples of usage include: detection of liquid
levels in storage containers, still bases, reactors and transport tankers; checking
for blockages caused by solid deposits and accumulations on internal pipe
walls; and determination of the location of a vessel’s internal structures such as
packing levels in absorption towers and catalyst beds in reactors. For example,
a reactor vessel at a petrochemical site could be investigated using a gamma
transmission gauge that shows that the catalyst has been spent and that the
packed beds have expanded, thereby narrowing the vertical separation
between adjacent beds. The results may help the plant management to decide
when to regenerate the catalyst. This density profiling is most often used to
investigate distillation columns [10]. The vapour spaces are clearly differen-
tiated on the basis of the relatively high levels of radiation attenuation detected
as the source or detector descends past the levels of the tray structures.
Reference scans (when the columns are operating normally) and blank scans
(when the columns are empty) permit the detection not only of flooding,
foaming and missing or collapsed trays, but also of more subtle faults such as a
high liquid level on the trays and high vapour density. It is also possible to
quantify more accurately the foam densities forming in different parts of the
column. By using a fast neutron (e.g. 241Am–Be) source to scan down the side
of a vessel, it is possible to detect phase changes of hydrogenous substances, for
example, to determine water, oil and vapour interfaces [11]. Neutron sources
are used to monitor flare stack lines for ice deposits that start to form when
condensates freeze in very cold weather and thereby create a potential flare
stack hazard.
Radioactive sealed sources may be incorporated in a pipeline pig (Fig. 7)
to track and possibly help locate it in the event that the pig is stopped by a
stubborn blockage. Similarly, a pig labelled with a sealed source may be used to
locate a leak in an umbilical pipeline; when the pig passes the leak in the hose,
the driving force is lost and the location of the source (in the pig) indicates
where the leak is occurring.

16
3.4. WELL LOGGING

3.4.1. Logging tools and techniques

Well logging companies place rugged, technologically sophisticated


logging tools in the well to measure physical parameters in the well, the
geological properties of the rocks around the well, and the presence of
elements in the rocks (Fig. 8). Among the many types of tool are means to

FIG. 7. Radioactive sealed sources incorporated in a pipeline pig (courtesy:


Scotoil Group plc).

17
measure fluid temperature, pressure, density and flow rates; detect casing
corrosion, wear and other damage; and measure rock density, porosity and
isotope content. Some of the tools contain one or more radiation detectors and
radioactive sources or a machine that generates ionizing radiation [12]. These
are referred to as nuclear logging tools.
In wireline logging systems, the drill string is first removed from the well
and the logging string (a series of logging tools connected together) is then
lowered to the bottom of the well on a cable (the wireline) that carries the
measurement data signals back to the surface where they are recorded on a log.
As the wireline tool is slowly raised, the log plots the parameter being

FIG. 8. Well logging tool string suspended by a derrick above an oil well (courtesy: Baker
Hughes INTEQ).

18
measured against the depth. ‘Logging-while-drilling’ and ‘measurement-while-
drilling’ systems avoid the need to first remove the drill string by incorporating
the logging tools in the drill collar or in coiled tubing. Signals are sent back to
the surface by means of a positive ‘mudpulse’ telemetry system [13]. Equip-
ment at the wellhead interprets the mud pulses and logs the data.
There are four common nuclear logging techniques:

(1) The first, sometimes called the gamma measurement technique (different
logging companies may use brand names), simply measures and identifies
the gamma rays emitted by naturally occurring radionuclides in rocks to
help distinguish the shale content of sedimentary rocks and aid litho-
logical identification. The log records the uranium, thorium and
potassium content of the rocks.
(2) The second technique, which provides a neutron–neutron or compen-
sated neutron log, demands a radioactive source of up to several hundred
gigabecquerels of 241Am–Be or Pu–Be in the tool to emit 4–5 MeV
neutrons. An elongated skid hydraulically presses the tool against the
wall of the well and two radiation detectors, located at different distances
from the source in the tool, measure the neutrons backscattered by the
rock formation. The relationship between the two readings provides a
porosity index for the rock. This indicates how porous the rock is and
whether it is likely to contain hydrocarbons or water.
(3) The third technique uses a tool, the gamma–gamma or density tool, which
contains two detectors and a 137Cs source, usually of up to 75 GBq. The
amount of gamma backscatter from the formation provides the density
log that, together with the porosity log, is a valuable indicator of the
presence of gas. A brand name may refer to this technique.
(4) The fourth technique, termed neutron–gamma logging, employs a tool
that houses a miniature linear accelerator. It contains up to several
hundred gigabecquerels of tritium (3H), a very low energy beta particle
emitter. When a high voltage (typically 80 kV) is applied to the device, it
accelerates deuterium atoms (2H) that bombard the tritium target and
generate a large number of very high energy (14–15 MeV) neutrons in
pulses lasting a few microseconds. Certain nuclides become radioactive
when hit by this neutron flux, and their subsequent radioactive decay
within the next few milliseconds can be monitored when the process is
repeated a great number of times per second. Either the gamma radiation
emitted as the activated atoms decay or the thermal neutron decay
characteristics are measured to identify the activated species of atoms
[14]. The chlorine or salt water content of the rocks is of particular
interest. A brand name may refer to this technique.

19
FIG. 9. Radioactive source being transported by road (courtesy: National Radiological
Protection Board, UK).

The gamma and neutron sources used in these tools are normally
transported in separate heavy containers termed shipping shields or carrying
shields. They are Type A transport packages (or sometimes Type B for the
neutron source) that meet the specifications for Category III labelling as
defined by the IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive
Material [15]. They may be transported by road in the vehicles of the logging
companies (Fig. 9) to the land well. When they are to be used offshore, the
shields are usually contained in an overpack [15]. This may be a large thick-
walled box (external dimensions about 1.75 m × 1.75 m × 1.75 m) that also
serves as a storage container at the well site (Fig. 10). The shields do not
provide adequate shielding to allow storage of the sources without use of the
large container. When the tools are hoisted into position above the well, the
logging engineer transfers the sources from the shields to the tools using a
handling rod approximately 1.5 m long (Fig. 11). The dose rates of the 137Cs
source are significant [16, 17] but not normally isotropic owing to the
construction of the source assembly. Dose rates may exceed 7.5 µSv/h for up to
30 m in the forward direction and about 4 m behind the engineer. The radiation
from the source is directed away from any occupied areas. The dose rates of the
neutron sources can exceed 7.5 µSv/h for distances of up to about 4 m. In

20
FIG. 10. Transport container used as a temporary store for well logging sources
(courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

FIG. 11. Wireline engineers transferring radioactive sources to logging tools on the drill
deck (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

21
FIG. 12. Wireline engineer using a handling tool to transfer a radioactive source during a
calibration procedure (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

addition to a ‘set’ of sources used in the logging tools, the logging engineer will
need a number of field calibration sources to carry out final checks on the tools
before beginning the log. Master calibrations are periodically performed on the
tools at the logging company’s operations base. These tests will involve putting
the sources into the tools or into a section of the tool (Fig. 12) and either
placing the tool inside a calibration block or placing a block over the source
position on the tool. The master calibration for the neutron–gamma logging
tool involves generating neutrons while the tool is inside a tank filled with a
suitable fluid (for example, clean water). The tank and its contents remain
radioactive for a short time (up to 30 min) after the tool has been switched off
(Fig. 13).
The instrument technicians assigned to the service company’s base will
use a range of sources of relatively low activity to aid in adjusting the settings of
the radiation detectors (Fig. 14).
The logging tools and the sources they contain are subjected to very high
downhole temperatures and pressures. The sources normally fall within the
definition of ‘special form radioactive material’ as sealed sources satisfying the
test criteria specified by the IAEA [15] and ISO standards [18]. Nevertheless,
the sources are normally given the further protection of a special container (a
pressure vessel) whenever they are in the shield or logging tool. The sources

22
FIG. 13. Facilities to enable high dose rate radiation sources to be safely exposed during
logging tool calibrations (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

FIG. 14. Controlled area in which low dose rate radiation test sources are used during
tests in the workshop (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

23
also need frequent checks for leakage of radioactive substances in accordance
with test criteria specified by ISO standards [19].

3.4.2. Additional uses of sources

While running the casing it is normal practice to insert small radioactive


sources to act as depth correlation markers — these provide, on the logs, clear
indications of when the logging tool reaches the defined depths. These sources
each contain about 50 kBq of 60Co in the form of malleable metal strips (or
tags) or point sources (pellets). They are inserted into threaded holes in the
casing collars or the tags may be placed in the screw threads at the casing joints
— the former configuration avoids the mutilation of the radioactive source.
During well completions, tags are usually attached to the perforation gun
so that when the explosive charge is detonated and jets of plasma (very hot
ionized gas) perforate the casing, the radioactive material contaminates the
perforations. These sources are generally known as PIP tags after the original
brand name (Precision Identification Perforation markers). A logging tool may
be used to detect the spread and depth of the radioactive material to determine
whether or not the charges have all fired at the intended depth and whether the
perforation process has been successful. Some of the contamination may later
be brought to the surface by the large volumes of fluids and solids flowing from
the well but dilution factors are such that the activity concentrations will be
very low in the topside plant and equipment.
The density of fluid may be measured at any depth in a well by using a
small logging tool that resembles a large sewing needle (Fig. 15). A source of
241
Am of several gigabecquerels and a detector are located opposite each other
across the ‘eye’ of the needle to provide a measure of the attenuation of gamma
radiation that occurs when fluids enter between them. The sleeve shown in
Fig. 15 is positioned over the gauge to prevent access to the source during
storage and transport.

3.5. SAFETY OF SEALED SOURCES

3.5.1. Sealed sources

Sealed radioactive sources used in the oil and gas industry are normally
manufactured to specifications defined by the ISO [18]. Under normal circum-
stances, the radioactive material will remain encapsulated throughout its
working life and be returned intact to the supplier, manufacturer or other
recipient authorized by the regulatory body. Sealed sources are routinely

24
subjected to leakage tests at appropriate intervals to confirm that no leakage of
the radioactive material has occurred. They are usually contained within
shielding materials that are appropriate to the radiation and the application
concerned in order to optimize the protection afforded to those workers closely
associated with the application and to others in the industry. Under normal
circumstances, and with regard to reasonably foreseeable incidents, accidents
and other occurrences, there is usually only a potential external radiation
hazard. Appropriate measures to control such hazards and guidance on
occupational radiation protection are given in a number of publications,
including specific guidance on various practices [1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 15].

3.5.2. Radiation safety in normal working conditions

Radiation sources are in common use throughout the oil and gas industry,
and therefore represent sources of potential exposure to a wide range of
workers in that industry. The transport and movement of packages and freight
containing sources potentially expose workers employed by the various
transport service companies supplying the industry’s material needs by land,
sea and air (Fig. 9). There is a need for good logistical organization on the part

FIG. 15. Gauge for measuring the density of well fluids (courtesy: National Radiological
Protection Board, UK).

25
FIG. 16. Store for radioactive sources (courtesy: National Radiological Protection
Board, UK).

of the operator to ensure that the sources and the workers trained to use or
install them are mobilized to arrive in a co-ordinated manner. The industry is
accustomed to good communications, ensuring that consignors and consignees
are fully aware of the sources’ movements and in-transit storage locations.
Temporary and permanent storage arrangements made available for the
sources on their arrival must meet standards that satisfy the responsible
regulatory body (Fig. 16). These standards are likely to include requirements
for security; intelligible warnings in local or multiple languages; adequate
shielding; and separate storage away from other hazards, other (non-radio-
active) materials, and workplaces.
Work that includes the removal of radiation sources from shielded
containers, particularly those manipulated during radiography and well
logging, normally demands the use of barriers (Fig. 17) to designate the extent
of the controlled areas [1]. This presents a problem where space is limited, such
as on offshore production platforms, and where the work must be carried out at
a specific location, such as the radiographic examination of items in situ and
well logging on the drill floor. Oil and gas production is almost continuous
(except during shutdowns and workovers) and at isolated drill sites personnel
will normally remain nearby even when they are off duty. Constraints need to

26
FIG. 17. Chain barriers designating a controlled area on the drill floor while logging
sources are in use (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

be imposed on the radiography consistent with those of the working


environment. One possibility would be to limit the source activity to an
appropriate value, for example 1 TBq of 192Ir, depending on the extent of the
worksite and any controlled areas designated while the work is in progress. This
may result in a need to tolerate longer film exposure times and a reduced rate
of radiograph production. Best use needs to be made of places that are furthest
from normally occupied areas, for example, by moving items to be radio-
graphed on offshore platforms to the lowest level (the cellar deck) where
feasible. The walls, floors and ceilings on offshore platforms/rigs may not
provide enough shielding to reduce the dose rates to acceptable values in
surrounding areas. The use of shielding placed near the source and the carrying
out of the work in the vicinity of topside plant, such as storage tanks and
vessels, that provides shielding will minimize the extent of controlled areas. It is
important to provide good beam collimation, enabling beams produced during
radiography and well logging to be directed away from occupied areas, and to
adhere to appropriate procedures.
Warning methods such as public announcements, audible signals (for
example, a portable air horn) and visible signals (for example, a flashing light in
the vicinity of the work) help restrict access to controlled areas.

27
3.5.3. High exposure and overexposure to radiation sources

Without suitable radiation protection measures, radiographic and well


logging radiation sources could give rise to significant external doses,
particularly while they are being manipulated routinely out of their shielded
containers. If appropriate action is not taken when, for instance, a typical radio-
graphic source fails to return to the exposure container, a dose approaching or
exceeding a regulatory limit could be received within minutes of exposure [20].
Improper handling of well logging sources and emergency situations such as
extended exposure arising during a difficult removal of a source from the
logging tool could result in significant doses being received by the engineer and
technicians carrying out this type of work. The most likely cause of a significant
dose being accidentally received is the failure to use a suitable radiation
monitoring instrument to detect an unshielded source. When site radiography
and well logging are carried out it is always necessary to have available the
expertise and necessary equipment (such as remote handling tongs) to
implement contingency plans quickly and efficiently. On offshore oil and gas
platforms it may not be practicable to evacuate personnel to a safe area and it
is therefore more urgent to implement source recovery.
Installed gauges and most mobile gauging devices are unlikely to contain
radiation sources capable, under normal circumstances, of delivering doses
equivalent to a dose limit. Care is needed by the operator not to allow access to
a vessel on which a source housing is mounted until the radiation beam has
been sufficiently shielded by a shutter within the housing that is locked in the
closed position. This is particularly important where dip tube or suspended
source configurations are used within the vessel. Radiation monitoring must be
carried out to confirm that the shutters have actually closed and that it is safe to
enter a vessel or to manipulate a gauge source housing.
Significant exposure to radiation could result from improper handling of
gauge sources if, for example, maintenance or leakage testing were to be
carried out incorrectly. Significant exposure could also result from high output
devices such as neutron generators if they were to be energized before lowering
downhole or before providing adequate shielding by means of a calibration
tank.

3.5.4. Lost or misplaced sources

Radiation sources used in the oil and gas industry are frequently
transported between service company bases and points of use (Fig. 9); they are
sometimes transferred or redirected to new locations and may be moved,
removed for temporary storage or reallocated within a field or between sites.

28
They are vulnerable to loss or theft or simply to being misplaced. Service
companies and operators must keep detailed and accurate records to account
for the whereabouts of sources at all times (see example documentation,
Fig. 18) so as to prevent accidental occupational exposure or unauthorized
disposal. For sources used on offshore platforms and rigs, the keeping of an
up-to-date record at an appropriate onshore location would aid recovery of the
sources in the event of a serious incident. The likelihood of loss or damage is
greater for portable or mobile sources (particularly small items such as smoke
detectors and beta lights). Installed equipment is to be detailed on plant and
equipment drawings. Every effort must be made to locate radiation sources
that are not accounted for and the regulatory body must be notified promptly
of any loss. Sources that are lost or ‘orphaned’ present a radiological risk to the
public and constitute a potentially serious hazard to any individual member of
the public who attempts to remove a source from safe containment. They may
become a significant economic burden and risk to the wider public if, for
example, they are recycled with scrap metal.
Unnecessary risks that may result in the loss of a source ought to be
avoided; for example, it is desirable that source containers are not lifted over
the sea. When sources must be manipulated and where there is a risk of loss,
suitable precautions need to be taken. A plate covering the annulus around a
well logging tool, or a chain connecting the source to the handling rod while it
is being inserted into the tool, is sufficient to prevent a disconnected source
from falling into a well. A tarpaulin may be used to cover deck grating during
an emergency procedure to recover a disconnected source from the projection
tube of a radiographic exposure container.

3.5.5. Retrieval of disconnected sources from a well

When logging tools are placed in a well there is a risk that the radiation
sources they contain, such as 137Cs and 241Am, may not be retrievable [21, 22].
The wireline support for tools may break or the tool may become ‘snagged’
within an open (uncased) hole. If any radioactive source associated with well
logging becomes stuck downhole, the licensee must immediately notify the
regulatory body and advise the operator, ensuring that every reasonable effort
is made to recover the source. Specialist service companies using special
equipment may be called upon to carry out ‘fishing’ operations to retrieve
disconnected logging equipment. It is important that the manner in which the
recovery is attempted does not compromise the integrity of the encapsulation
of the radioactive material. Damage to the encapsulation could cause
widespread radioactive contamination of the wellbore, drilling rig, fishing tools,

29
30
INSTALLATION SOURCE REGISTER

Details of all radioactive consignments, that is, sealed sources and unsealed substances arriving at and departing from the installation should be
recorded. Use one line per consignment.

Source Physical form Source Source Disposal route


Service Nuclide Activity Storage
arrival e.g. sealed, gas, serial disposal e.g. beach, well Audit date
company e.g. 192Ir e.g. GBq, Ci location
date liquid, powder number date number, rig transfer

FIG. 18. Example of a record to account for radioactive sources.


mud tanks, mud pumps, and other equipment that comes into contact with the
drilling fluids. During fishing operations, the logging engineer provides advice
and monitors the mud returns for any evidence of damage to the source using
instruments suitable for detecting the types and energies of the emissions from
the radioactive source material. Any increase in radiation levels detected in the
returned fluids would call for the operator to stop recovery operations immedi-
ately, pending an assessment to determine the source’s status. The specialist
service companies and the operator must advise the regulatory body when
fishing operations have been unsuccessful and obtain agreement to discontinue
recovery operations. Appropriate measures will be needed to ensure that an
abandoned source in a tool is not destroyed in any future drilling of the well.
Usually the tool is cemented in, possibly using coloured cement, and a hard
metal deflector may be placed on top of the cement plug. Later, drilling around
the plug may continue, with a permanent plaque attached at the wellhead to
provide details of the abandoned source and a clear warning.

3.5.6. Physical damage to sources, containers and other equipment

The containers in which radiation sources are transported, moved and


stored are generally designed to provide adequate shielding and radiation
safety under most climatic conditions. They demand a degree of maintenance
that may need to be increased in more arduous working environments, for
example, in salty or sandy environments where corrosion and increased wear
may be of concern. Installed gauges often remain in position for long periods of
time and it is important that they are kept clean so that identification markings,
labels or other safety markings — which some might consider to be cosmetic
features — do not become illegible. Otherwise, in the longer term, the obvious
profile, discernible relevant markings and even the source’s identity may be
lost. The care and maintenance of ancillary equipment for controlling the
radiation source (tubes and cables used for radiography and handling rods used
for well logging) are similarly very important.
Increased dose rates and unacceptable external exposures may result if
the shielding of a radiation source container is damaged by mechanical,
thermal or chemical means. Suitable precautions will normally include:

(a) Taking regular measurements of the shielding properties of radiation


source containers.
(b) Monitoring measured surface dose rates using control charts (see
example documentation, Fig. 19); the charts are likely to indicate even
subtle deterioration in the standard of radiation safety.

31
Date of measurements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Instrument used: Gamma meter . . . . . . . . . . . . Neutron meter . . . . . . . . . . . .

Radioactive sources storage container results

µSv/h µSv/h µSv/h

µSv/h
µSv/h

µSv/h

µSv/h

µSv/h

Controlled area results

µSv/h

DRILL
FLOOR

µSv/h
‘V’ DOOR µSv/h

ROTARY
TABLE
PIPE DECK
µSv/h UP

µSv/h

RPO Signature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

FIG. 19. Example of a radiation survey form.

32
(c) Performing source leakage tests (smear tests) at intervals advised by the
source or equipment manufacturer or as required by the regulatory body;
sources that are at greatest risk of rupture when placed downhole may
demand the most frequent testing, for example, biannually.

Sealed sources used in the oil and gas industry may become damaged or
ruptured to the extent that the radioactive material leaks or is released in loose
form from the encapsulation. For instance, despite taking the necessary
precautions there is always some risk of the integrity of the source encapsu-
lation being compromised during attempts to retrieve a disconnected source
from a well. Leakage may also result from mechanical, thermal or chemical
conditions exceeding the specifications of the source or from the unlikely
situation of poor quality control by the manufacturer or improper encapsu-
lation of the sealed radioactive material. Sealed sources are leak tested after
manufacture and before transport, and additional tests may be arranged as
required by the end user or to meet the requirements of the regulatory body.
A ruptured industrial radiography source could create a severe,
immediate health threat to individuals [20]. The most common radioactive
materials used, 192Ir and 60Co, are incorporated into sources with activities
generally of several hundreds or thousands of gigabecquerels. Therefore, if the
encapsulation becomes compromised, extensive contamination can result, with
the consequent potential for extremely large internal and external doses being
received by those exposed to the contamination.
To deal with an event involving the rupture of an industrial radiography
or well logging source (including the rupture, during recovery attempts, of a
well logging source that has become lodged downhole), written emergency
procedures that the licensee can implement in conjunction with the operator
[23] need to be immediately available, including procedures for the:

(a) Immediate notification of the regulatory body by the licensee in


conjunction with the operator.
(b) Securing of the affected area in order to limit the spread of contamination
and to prevent anyone from incurring either an internal or external dose
as a result of being exposed to the ruptured source.
(c) Restriction of access until a person is authorized, by reason of training
and experience, to assess the problem, including the extent of the contam-
ination, and decide on further actions such as decontamination
procedures. In the case of damage occurring while attempting to retrieve
a disconnected source from a well, the access restrictions apply to the
area around the wellhead and to any equipment used in the recovery
operations.

33
(d) Retrieval of all contaminated items and their storage in such a way as to
prevent further exposures and the spread of contamination, pending their
decontamination to authorized clearance levels [24] or their disposal as
radioactive waste in accordance with the requirements of the regulatory
body.
(e) Monitoring for internal contamination of those persons involved in the
operations that gave rise to the incident or who were in the immediate
area when the incident occurred, and assessment of the total, committed
effective doses resulting from the internal and external exposures of
those persons [25, 26].
(f) Retention in the company records of the results of these assessments and
the copying of them to the companies that employ the workers involved.

General guidance is available on occupational radiation protection in


intervention situations and emergencies [1].
If damage to a radiography source is identified in the early stages,
widespread contamination can be avoided. A ruptured radiography source may
be returned to the shielded position in the exposure container, or otherwise
shielded to decrease the immediate health threat. Risks associated with a
damaged radiography source can be further minimized by:

(a) Managing individuals who may be contaminated so that the contami-


nation is contained within a controlled area;
(b) Decontaminating any person found to be contaminated, in accordance
with established procedures [27];
(c) Handling with care any potentially contaminated items, such as ancillary
radiographic equipment, and, if possible, placing them in bags to prevent
any spread of contamination;
(d) Setting up cordons to prevent access to the area concerned in the event of
there being any doubt whether contamination exists but where there are
elevated radiation readings;
(e) Treating any potentially contaminated item or area as contaminated until
an assessment can be completed, i.e. the exposure device, any material
used to shield the radioactive source, the area, and any equipment in the
immediate vicinity [23];
(f) Performing leak tests on the radiography sources as soon as possible after
any incident or other occurrence that could cause stress to the source
encapsulation.

34
3.5.7. Site emergencies, natural disasters and strife

The highly combustible products of the oil and gas industry pose a
constant risk of fire and explosion. Hazardous chemicals and explosives are
also used routinely in the industry. The operator must minimize the possibilities
of these non-radiation hazards compounding the risks associated with work
involving radiation sources. Care is needed in storing hazardous materials to
ensure that there is adequate separation between the different stores and other
hazardous areas such as the wellhead.
Site emergency plans will need to include contingencies to deal with the
potential radiation exposure of firefighters and other personnel who need to
deal with an incident, accident or other occurrence in an area where radiation
sources are present. A contingency plan has to include standing instructions to
specialist service companies to make safe any radiation source for which they
are responsible in the event that a site emergency status is announced. The
operator ensures that appropriate action will be taken either to make safe a
source or to implement suitable countermeasures in the event that a radiation
worker is incapacitated during the emergency.
It is important that equipment and radiation sources be secured against
damage or loss in situations where natural disaster or strife is imminent.

3.6. WASTE MANAGEMENT OF SEALED SOURCES

3.6.1. Introduction

The proper management of spent and disused sources by the owner/


operator is of particular importance since such sources may still contain
significant amounts of radioactive materials. If not properly managed, this type
of radioactive waste has the potential to present serious risks to human health
and to the environment. In many ways, the waste management of sealed
sources is more easily facilitated than the management of unsealed sources and
NORM wastes owing to their physical form and structure (i.e. contained) and
incorporated safety features. A radioactive waste management programme
applicable to sealed sources has to be documented and submitted to the
regulatory body for review and approval. General guidance on the components
and structure of such a programme is given in Refs [28, 29]. The most important
aspects of the waste management programme are described in Sections 3.6.2. to
3.6.8.

35
3.6.2. Waste minimization strategies

The development of strategies to minimize waste generation is given a


high priority in the waste management programme. Some degree of waste
minimization with regard to sealed sources can be achieved through:

(a) The use of relatively short lived radionuclides where possible;


(b) The use of the minimum quantity of radioactive material consistent with
achieving the objective of the work application;
(c) Ensuring that sources are not physically damaged;
(d) Routine monitoring for source leakage (to minimize contamination of
other items);
(e) Reuse of sealed sources and ancillary equipment, e.g. shielding
containers;
(f) Recycling by the manufacturer.

On-site decay storage is the preferred method of waste minimization in


the case of short lived radionuclides (half-life <100–200 d), e.g. 192Ir.

3.6.3. Waste inventories and characterization

A detailed waste inventory is maintained which includes details of:

(a) Source type, radionuclide and activity;


(b) All sources removed from regulatory control;
(c) All sources transferred to other facilities, e.g. manufacturer, storage,
disposal.

Waste characterization information can be obtained from the manufac-


turer of the source.

3.6.4. Waste storage facilities

Suitable on-site storage areas are needed for spent and disused sources
and for sources undergoing decay storage. Aspects to consider in the design of
such facilities include:

(a) Physical security,


(b) Access controls,
(c) Handling systems and other operational aspects,
(d) Gamma dose rates on the exterior of the facility.

36
3.6.5. Predisposal management of radioactive waste

The predisposal management of radioactive waste may include a number


of processing steps covering pretreatment, treatment and conditioning as well
as storage and handling operations and transport prior to disposal. In the case
of sealed sources used in the oil and gas industry, the options are generally
limited to decay storage and transport to a centralized conditioning, interim
storage or disposal facility.

3.6.6. Disposal methods

The preferred disposal option is that contractual arrangements be made


when purchasing sealed sources which allow for their return to the manu-
facturer following use. This is particularly important in the case of high activity
sources that cannot be removed from regulatory control until after many years
of decay storage, or for sources containing long lived radionuclides. Long lived
sources are generally conditioned by means of encapsulation in welded steel
capsules.
An alternative would be to transfer the sources to a waste management or
disposal facility authorized by the regulatory body. If no disposal facility is
available the operator should make provision for the safe, long term storage of
spent and disused sources, preferably at a centralized storage facility approved
by the regulatory body. The storage facility must:

(a) Ensure isolation;


(b) Ensure protection of workers, the public and the environment;
(c) Enable subsequent handling, movement, transport or disposal.

Sealed sources should never be subjected to compaction, shredding or


incineration. Neither should they be removed from their containers nor the
containers modified, as this can lead to the contamination of other items and
areas.

3.6.7. Transport of radioactive waste

All waste must be packaged and transported in accordance with the


IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials [15]. Waste
consignments should be accompanied by the necessary waste inventory and
waste characterization information.

37
3.6.8. Record keeping and reporting

A suitable and comprehensive record keeping system is usually required


for radioactive waste management activities. The record system allows the
tracing of waste from the point of generation through to its long term storage
and/or disposal. It is the responsibility of the regulatory body to determine the
reporting requirements of the owner/operator with regard to radioactive
wastes. However, the owner or operator also has responsibilities, namely, to
always exercise a duty of care with respect to radioactive waste management
activities and to have sufficient records to ensure that the waste management is
performed appropriately.

4. UNSEALED RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES


IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

4.1. RADIOTRACER AND MARKER STUDIES

4.1.1. Unsealed radioactive materials used as tracers and markers

The oil and gas industry uses unsealed radioactive solids (powder and
granular forms), liquids and gases to investigate or trace the movement of other
materials, even within closed and sometimes inaccessible pipework and vessels
[4, 7]. Most of these radiotracers can be detected and/or measured easily by
their emissions. To achieve the objectives of a study, the physical form of the
radiotracer is selected or manufactured so as to be consistent with the materials
to be studied and its decay characteristics need to be appropriate [30]. Typical
properties of a physical radiotracer include:

(a) Capability to follow the material under investigation but not display the
same chemical behaviour as, or react with, other material in the system
under investigation;
(b) Stability of form such that it will not degrade in the high temperatures,
pressures or corrosive media into which it is introduced;
(c) Minimal radiotoxicity, i.e. dose per unit activity intake;
(d) Half-life compatible with the investigation schedule so as to minimize
residual contamination in the system or product;
(e) Suitable radiation emissions making it readily detectable;

38
(f) Initial activity that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA), taking
into account the radiotracer’s half-life, the anticipated activity at the
measurement locations and the detection limits of the techniques
employed.

Alpha emitters are not easily detected and are generally unsuitable as
radiotracers. Beta emitters, including 3H and 14C, may be used when it is
feasible to use sampling techniques to detect the presence of the radiotracer, or
when changes in activity concentration can be used as indicators of the
properties of interest in the system. Gamma emitters, such as 46Sc, 140La, 56Mn,
24
Na, 124Sb, 192Ir, 99Tcm, 131I, 110Agm, 41Ar and 133Xe are used extensively because
of the ease with which they can be identified and measured. They are readily
traced or followed by detectors placed outside the system. They allow the use
of non-invasive procedures that involve minimal or no disruption to
production.

4.1.2. Examples of the upstream use of radiotracers and markers

Radiotracers are used during completion, stimulation and recovery


enhancements to determine that procedures have been carried out satisfac-
torily. Some examples are described below.
As cement is mixed for a well completion, a glass ampoule, containing
scandium oxide incorporating 750 MBq of 46Sc as powdered glass, is released
into the slurry tank just before the initial batch of cement is to be pumped
downhole. By releasing the radioactive material directly into the cement, the
contamination of equipment and the risk of spillage are minimized. The tank is
monitored as the slurry is pumped to the bottom of the string and the grout
rises to fill the annulus. As pumping continues, a logging tool is lowered down
the well through the displacement fluid to detect and monitor the progress of
the plug of radiotracer rising up the annulus until its appropriate position is
reached.
To evaluate whether a fracturing process to stimulate the flow has
penetrated rocks in the pay zone, plastic pellets coated with approximately
10 GBq of 110Agm are added to a proppant during the ‘frac job’. When the
fracturing work is complete and when surplus fluids have been removed from
the well so as to prevent their solidification in the tubing string, the job is
assessed by lowering a logging tool down the well to detect and map out the
movement and final positions of the injection fluids and proppants.
To indicate the flow rate of the well fluids, radiotracer ‘spikes’,
comprising 99Tcm and 131I solutions, are released from logging tools into
production wells and the time taken for them to traverse the known distance

39
FIG. 20. Tritiated water for injection as a radioactive tracer (courtesy:
Scotoil Group plc).

between two radiation detectors is determined. When radiotracers are injected


along with waterflood and gas drives, it is possible to identify the flow patterns,
‘thief’ zones, channelling, flow rates of injected fluids in the reservoir and the
relationship(s) between injector and producer wells. The activities of the
nuclides injected are significant (Fig. 20) — up to 1 TBq of 3H and 14C labelled
compounds — but the activity concentrations of samples obtained at the
producer wells are very low.
In order to aid the detection of any spillage of solutions of these ‘soft’
beta emitters, they are sometimes spiked with a short half-life gamma emitter
such as 82Br, which will need measures to minimize external exposures at the
injection well. ‘Hard’ beta emitters, such as the gaseous radiotracer 85Kr,
generate bremsstrahlung and also need measures to minimize external
exposures.

40
4.1.3. Examples of the downstream use of radiotracers and markers

Flow rate measurement is one of the most common applications of


radiotracers. It is used to calibrate installed flow rate meters, measure the
efficiency of pumps and turbines, investigate flow maldistribution and heat
transfer problems and make plant or unit mass balances. The two methods in
widest use rely on pulse velocity and dilution flow measurements.
The pulse velocity method [31] relies on the injection of a sharp pulse or
spike of gamma emitter into the process stream. The flow needs to be turbulent
and completely fill the pipe bore. Downstream, at a distance sufficient to
ensure a good lateral mixing of the radiotracer with the process stream, two
radiation detectors are positioned, separated by an accurately measured
distance (L). As the radiotracer passes, the response of each detector is
registered and the mean transit time (T) measured. Knowing the mean internal
cross-sectional area (A) of the pipe bore, the mean linear flow velocity (L/T)
can be calculated and converted to volume flow rate (V=LA/T).
The dilution flow method does not need the flow to be full bore or be
confined within a closed circuit [32]; the flow can be in open channels, ditches,
sewers or rivers. A known activity concentration (C) of radiotracer is
introduced at a known constant rate (U). Downstream, at a distance that allows
complete lateral mixing, samples are taken and the activity concentration (S)
measured. The volume flow rate (V) is very much greater than the injection
rate (U) and may be calculated (V=CU/S).
Often, a leak may be inferred from flow rate measurements. In other
circumstances, leaks may be detected directly, for example, when radiotracer
seeps from a pipeline either above or below ground level.
Residence time measurements have also served to detect leaks across
feed–effluent exchangers associated with catalytic reactors. A radiotracer is
injected at the inlet of the vessel and a detector provides a signal to record the
time of its entry. Another detector at the vessel outlet is used to measure the
instantaneous concentration of tracer leaving the vessel. The response or ‘C
curve’ of this detector represents the residence time distribution of material in
the vessel. A long residence time indicates excellent mixing in the vessel and a
short residence time indicates poor mixing (plug flow). The presence of a
subsidiary peak prior to the main peak in the residence time distribution curve
may indicate a leak across the exchanger. Mean residence time of materials in
chemical process vessels and the distribution of residence times both influence
the output and quality of the product. Analysis of C curves provides quanti-
tative information relevant to the design of mixing characteristics of full size
plant.

41
4.2. SAFETY OF UNSEALED RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS

4.2.1. Preparation of radiotracers

The radiotracers obtained from the isotope production facility may be


suitable for use directly or may need to be prepared in a laboratory that the
regulatory body has licensed to process the radioactive materials. Preparation
might include ‘labelling’ or tagging the non-active substrates such as glass or
plastic beads of known mesh size with radioactive material. The laboratory may
bake the radioactive material onto the bead surfaces or otherwise incorporate
the radioactive material into the beads. Alternatively, the radioactive material
might be supplied in a suitable form, such as a coarse radioactive glass or sand,
and the laboratory will simply dispense a known aliquot of the radioactive
material. The preparation is intended to help minimize the handling and
complexity of manipulations at the site where the radiotracer is introduced into
the system being investigated. The licensee must implement special procedures
to minimize dispersal, surface contamination and/or airborne contamination
from liquids, powdered solids and gases.
The laboratory will need appropriate facilities, including controlled areas
for handling open radioactive material, and be able to deal with potential
contamination arising through routine handling or more serious spills.
Engineered controls, such as a hood or an extract ventilation system, will
prevent the dispersal, ingestion or inhalation of radioactive material. A
monitoring programme needs to include provision for conducting surface
contamination measurements and dose rate surveys, airborne contamination
measurements and personnel monitoring for external and internal doses
[25, 26].
The laboratory will package the radiotracer for transport to the site. It is
preferable that the design of the package and packaging be such that the
radiotracer is ready for immediate application at the site. The design and any
contamination on internal and external surfaces of the package must satisfy
specifications and limits defined by the regulatory body. As consignor, the
laboratory must be conversant with labelling and documentation required for
the transport package(s).

4.2.2. Work with radiotracers

The operator will normally employ an injection company specializing in


tracer techniques to be the end user of the radiotracer. The operator or the end
user as required by the regulatory body will obtain a licence to carry out the
work. The regulatory body will require a licence application to be accompanied

42
by sufficient details of the radiotracer to be used, the intended radiation
protection and operation procedures, sampling intentions if appropriate and
proposals to deal with the radioactive waste expected to arise.
The injection company will prepare the well site or job site appropriately
for handling and processing unsealed radioactive material for normal working
and to mitigate the consequences of any incident that might occur. Usually the
work will be carried out under circumstances that are much less ideal than in
the laboratory. However, the same radiation protection principles can be
applied. The injection company provides:

(a) Adequate containment for actual and potential contamination;


(b) Suitable equipment, including personal protective equipment (including
respiratory protection as appropriate) and monitoring instruments;
(c) Washing facilities and arrangements for good industrial hygiene
measures.

Suitable preparation and adherence to predefined procedures will not


only minimize the possibility of environmental contamination but will also
reduce the risk of external and internal exposure to radiation workers and to
other persons in the vicinity. These procedures include carrying out a survey to
determine background conditions prior to the start of any operations by the
injection company and the establishment of a controlled area around the work
area to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the area and being
exposed to radiation or becoming contaminated with the radioactive material.
Controlled areas, where there is a significant risk that the radiotracer material
could be spilled, are arranged so as to contain any such spillage. All relevant
exposure pathways must be considered, including the inhalation of volatile
substances such as 131I. The risk of inhalation can be minimized or eliminated
by using alternative non-volatile radionuclides such as 99Tcm instead of 131I.
When the radiotracer is to be injected into a high pressure system
(Fig. 21), it is particularly important that the service company use suitable valve
systems and operating procedures to minimize the possibility of contamination,
for example, checking that connections are tight before injecting the
radiotracer. An experienced injection company will be aware of, and prepare
for, the problems that may occur, such as a ‘sand-out’. This occurs when the
pressure in the wellbore causes the backward flow of fluids to the surface.
When a radiotracer has been injected into a well, a sand-out can result in
surface contamination around the wellhead. The injection company is
responsible for decontaminating any area or equipment that is contaminated as
a result of the operations. This includes ancillary items not owned by the
injection company, such as mixing vessels, flow lines, tubing and any other

43
FIG. 21. Radioactive gas being injected at high pressure for use as a tracer
(courtesy: Scotoil Group plc).

equipment contaminated by the radioactive material. The decontamination


must reduce residual contamination to agreed clearance levels acceptable to
the regulatory body. The injection company must carry out surveys to
demonstrate that any equipment that has been contaminated by radiotracer,
but which will not remain under the control of the licensee, satisfies release

44
requirements accepted by the regulatory body. Records of the contamination
survey results must be copied to the facility operator. The injection company’s
procedures should include contingency plans for all reasonably foreseeable
incidents, accidents and other occurrences. All necessary equipment to
implement those plans, including decontamination procedures, should be kept
readily available.

4.2.3. Accidents involving radiotracer material

Accidents involving unsealed radioactive material can result from a


number of situations, for example:

(a) Spillage and releases of radioactive material from pressurized systems;


(b) Unintended or unauthorized disposal of waste;
(c) Site emergencies such as fires and explosions;
(d) Natural disasters, strife and transport accidents.

The licensee’s emergency response plan lists appropriate actions and


suitable countermeasures for these situations and for other reasonably
foreseeable accidents.
Accidental spills or unintentional releases of radioactive material may
occur in the relatively controlled environment of a laboratory, or under the
much less favourable conditions of a well site or on a public highway. The result
is the presence of uncontrolled, open radioactive material in restricted or
unrestricted areas. The licensee’s emergency procedures address all reasonably
foreseeable incidents and occurrences so as to minimize the risk of spreading
contamination and establish good practices designed to minimize potential
internal and external exposures. Immediate actions to be taken by the licensee
include notifying the regulatory body and restricting access to the contami-
nated area. Guidance on assessing the severity of an incident, dealing with
contaminated individuals and decontamination procedures is available [23, 27].
The licensee is responsible for ensuring adequate decontamination of any areas
and/or items that have been contaminated as a result of the incident. The
licensee must either be authorized to perform the decontamination or employ
an authorized entity to perform it. Materials will be generated during decon-
tamination that must be handled as radioactive waste. After any decontami-
nation efforts, a survey of the area and any items to be released for unrestricted
use must be undertaken to verify compliance with appropriate authorized
clearance levels [24].
The contingency planning should recognize the need to advise first
responders such as firefighters and traffic control authorities of the presence of

45
radioactive material. The notification of the presence of radioactive material
will enable the emergency workers to take the necessary precautions to prevent
the further spread of contamination and also for the responders to implement
the necessary precautions for their own protection against the radiological
health hazards. In the case of transport accidents, the shipping documents will
identify the radioactive material by nuclide, quantity and form of the material
being transported. The documents should also identify the individual(s)
responsible for assessing the hazards and providing assistance to the emergency
workers. The licensee should:

(a) Notify the proper fire department or authority when radioactive material
is being maintained at a location;
(b) Provide 24 hour emergency contact in case a fire occurs;
(c) Provide the first responders with relevant information concerning the
proper procedures for minimizing the risks to health and for preventing
the unnecessary spread of contamination.

In the case of fire, the possibility of volatilization of the radioactive


material and consequently the possibility of internal exposure by ingestion
exist. The first responders should be made aware of all exposure possibilities
and informed as necessary to either stay upwind of the fire or use self-
contained breathing apparatus.

4.3. WASTE MANAGEMENT OF UNSEALED SOURCES AND


MATERIALS

4.3.1. Introduction

The proper management of unsealed radioactive sources and wastes by


the owner/operator is of particular importance. If not properly managed and
controlled, the waste has the potential to contaminate working and non-
working areas and persons and may in some cases present serious risks to
human health and to the environment.
Tracer work creates radioactive waste that must be accumulated and
disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the regulatory body. The
laboratory’s waste is likely to include laboratory aprons, gloves and overshoes,
absorbent materials, glassware and similar low level radioactive waste as well
as possibly higher activity concentrations of excess radioactive material. The
injection company’s wastes will include absorbent materials, industrial personal
protective equipment and surplus radiotracer. The service companies must

46
maintain inventories of all radioactive materials received, sold, used, stored,
decayed and disposed of (see example documentation, Fig. 18).
All radioactive material declared as waste must be managed in
accordance with the requirements of the regulatory body. This includes
radioactive material that may have been ordered and received but not used.
The regulatory body will issue a licence authorizing accumulations of
radioactive waste of short half-life to be kept until they have decayed to a suffi-
ciently low level of activity concentration to be discarded.
A radioactive waste management programme applicable to unsealed
sources needs to be documented and submitted to the regulatory body for
review and approval. General guidance on the components and structure of
such a programme is given in Ref. [28], and the important aspects are discussed
in Sections 4.3.2. to 4.3.8.

4.3.2. Waste minimization strategies

The development of strategies to minimize waste generation should be


given a high priority in the waste management programme. A significant
degree of waste minimization with regard to unsealed sources can be achieved
by:

(a) Using relatively short lived radionuclides wherever possible;


(b) Using the minimum quantity of radioactive material consistent with
achieving the objective of the work application;
(c) Applying strict controls during the use of unsealed sources in order to
minimize the contamination of other materials and objects;
(d) Minimizing the presence of unnecessary materials and items in controlled
areas where open sources are handled;
(e) Recycling of unused source material by the manufacturer;
(f) Decontaminating and cleaning items and areas.

On-site decay storage is the preferred method of waste minimization in


the case of short lived radionuclides (half-life <100–200 d), e.g. 192Ir.
Waste volumes can be reduced by various methods; for example, paper
and plastic materials contaminated with radionuclides may be compacted or
shredded. Other methods such as incineration would require that the waste be
packaged and transported to a waste treatment facility authorized by the
regulatory body.
Active practical measures (e.g. covering with plastic) should be taken
during work with unsealed sources to prevent equipment from becoming

47
contaminated. Contaminated equipment should be decontaminated wherever
possible, either at on-site or off-site facilities.
Equipment and materials that cannot be decontaminated to authorized
clearance levels [24] must be disposed of as radioactive waste in accordance
with the requirements of the regulatory body.

4.3.3. Waste inventories and characterization

A detailed waste inventory has to be maintained which includes:

(a) Details of source type, radionuclide and activity;


(b) Lists of all sources removed from regulatory control;
(c) Lists of all radioactive waste transferred to other facilities, e.g. manufac-
turer, storage, disposal.

Waste characterization information can be obtained from the manufac-


turer of the source.

4.3.4. Waste storage facilities

Suitable on-site and off-site storage areas are usually required for
unsealed radioactive wastes. Storage may be required for purposes of decay, or
as a management step prior to pretreatment, treatment and conditioning, or
prior to disposal. Considerations in the design of such facilities include:

(a) Physical security,


(b) Access controls,
(c) Waste handling systems,
(d) Controls over contamination,
(e) Gamma dose rates on the exterior of the facility.

4.3.5. Predisposal management of radioactive waste

The predisposal management of radioactive waste may include several


processing steps that cover pretreatment (e.g. collection and segregation),
treatment and conditioning (e.g. storage and handling operations and transport
prior to disposal). In the case of unsealed sources, the following aspects need to
be carefully considered in the waste management programme:

(a) Aspects related to the collection of waste (e.g. minimization of waste


volumes, design of waste collection receptacles).

48
(b) Segregation of wastes at the point of generation, for instance:
(i) Segregation of radioactive and non-radioactive wastes;
(ii) Segregation based on half-life (e.g. for the purpose of decay storage);
(iii) Segregation based on activity levels;
(iv) Segregation based on the physical and chemical forms of the waste
(e.g. solid, liquid).
(c) Treatment aspects, such as:
(i) Compaction or decontamination of solids,
(ii) Absorption of liquids into a solid matrix.
(d) Conditioning (e.g. to meet packaging, handling and transport require-
ments).

4.3.6. Disposal methods

The preferred disposal option for unsealed radioactive waste is transfer to


a waste management or disposal facility that is authorized by the regulatory
body. Some degree of predisposal management such as compaction may be
required to reduce waste volumes. In addition, the waste would need to be
properly packed for transport.
If no disposal facility is available, the operator will need to make
provision for safe long term storage, preferably at a centralized storage facility
approved by the regulatory body. The storage facility:

(a) Ensures isolation;


(b) Ensures protection of workers, the public and the environment;
(c) Enables subsequent handling, movement, transport or disposal of the
waste.

4.3.7. Transport of radioactive waste

All waste must be packaged and transported in accordance with the


IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials [15]. Waste
consignments should be accompanied by the necessary waste inventory and
waste characterization information.

4.3.8. Record keeping and reporting

A suitable and comprehensive record keeping system is usually required


for radioactive waste management activities. The record system allows the
waste to be traced from the point of generation through to its long term storage
and/or disposal. It is the responsibility of the regulatory body to determine the

49
reporting requirements of the owner/operator with regard to radioactive
wastes. However, the owner or operator also has responsibilities, namely, to
always exercise a duty of care with respect to radioactive waste management
activities and to have sufficient records to ensure that the waste management is
performed appropriately.

5. NORM IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

5.1. INTRODUCTION

The first reports of NORM associated with mineral oil and natural gases
appeared in 1904 [33]. Later reports describe the occurrence of 226Ra in
reservoir water from oil and gas fields [34, 35] and in the 1970s and 1980s
several observations prompted renewed interest [36–44]. The radiological
aspects of these phenomena, the results of monitoring and analyses and the
development of guidelines for radiation safety are now reported extensively
[45–49].

5.2. ORIGIN AND RADIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF NORM

The radionuclides identified in oil and gas streams belong to the decay
chains of the naturally occurring primordial radionuclides 238U and 232Th. These
parent radionuclides have very long half-lives and are ubiquitous in the earth’s
crust with activity concentrations that depend on the type of rock. Radioactive
decay of 238U and 232Th produces several series of daughter radioisotopes of
different elements and of different physical characteristics with respect to their
half-lives, modes of decay, and types and energies of emitted radiation (Figs 22
and 23, and Table I) [50].
Analyses of NORM from many different oil and gas fields show that the
solids found in the downhole and surface structures of oil and gas production
facilities do not include 238U and 232Th [49]. These elements are not mobilized
from the reservoir rock that contains the oil, gas and formation water (Figs 22
and 23). The formation water contains Group II (Periodic Table) cations of
calcium, strontium, barium and radium dissolved from the reservoir rock. As a
consequence, formation water contains the radium isotopes 226Ra from the 238U
series (Fig. 22) and 228Ra and 224Ra from the 232Th series (Fig. 23). All three

50
radium isotopes, but not their parents, thus appear in the water co-produced
with the oil or gas. They are referred to as ‘unsupported’ because their long
lived parents 238U and 232Th and also 228Th remain in the reservoir. The 228Th
radionuclide sometimes detected in aged sludge and scale is likely to be present
as a product of the decay of the mobilized 228Ra. When the ions of the Group II
elements, including radium, are present in the produced water, drops in
pressure and temperature can lead to the solubility products of their mixed
sulphates and carbonates being exceeded. Referring to Fig. 24, this causes their
precipitation as sulphate and carbonate scales on the inner walls of production
tubulars (T), wellheads (W), valves (V), pumps (P), separators (S), water
treatment vessels (H), gas treatment (G) and oil storage tanks (O). Deposition
occurs where turbulent flow, centripetal forces and nucleation sites provide the

238 a
U 4.470 × 109 a

234 b
Th 24.1 d

Not mobilized from 234m b


reservoir rock Pa 1.17 min

234 a
U 2.455 × 105 a

230 a
Th 7.54 × 104 a

226 a Leaching 226


Ra 1600 y Ra
Transport with water
222 Emanation/dissolution 222 a 222
Rn Rn 3.8235 d Rn
Transport with
gas, (oil, water)
218 218 a 218
Po Po 3.1 min Po
Transport with water, (gas, oil)
via carrier lead compounds

214 214 b 214


Pb Pb 26.8 min Pb
(Mechanism?)

214 214 b 214


Bi Bi 19.9 min Bi

a
Transport in condensates

214 214 214


Po Po 164.3 ms Po
liquified natural gas
of oil, sludge, and

(Mechanism?)

210 210 b 210 210


Pb Pb 22.30 a Pb Pb

210 210 b 210 210


Bi Bi 5.013 d Bi Bi

210 210 210 a 210 210


Po Po Po 138.40 d Po Po

206 206 206 206 206


Pb Pb Pb stable Pb Pb

FIG. 22. Uranium-238 decay series.

51
TABLE I. RADIOACTIVE DECAY CHARACTERISTICS OF
NATURALLY OCCURRING RADIONUCLIDES ASSOCIATED WITH
OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION (FROM REF. [50])

Radionuclide Half-life Mode of decay Main decay product(s)

Ra-226 1600 a Alpha Rn-222 (noble gas)


Rn-222 3.8235 d Alpha Short lived progeny
Pb-210 22.30 a Beta Po-210 (alpha emitter)
Po-210 138.40 d Alpha Pb-206 (stable)
Ra-228 5.75 a Beta Th-228
Th-228 1.9116 a Alpha Ra-224
Ra-224 3.66 d Alpha Short lived progeny

Not mobilized from 232 a


reservoir rock Th 1.405 × 1010 a

Leaching
228 b 228
Ra 5.75 a Transport with water
Ra

228 b 228
Ac 6.15 h Ac

228 a 228
Th 1.9116 a Th

224 Leaching 224 a 224


Ra Ra 3.66 d Ra
Transport with water

220 220 a 220


Rn Rn 55.6 s Rn

216 216 a 216


Po Po 0.145 s Po

212 212 b 212


Pb Pb 10.64 h Pb
b (64.06%)
212 212 212
Bi Bi a (35.94%) Bi
60.55 min

212 a
212
Po Po 0.299 µs
212
Po
& & &
208 b
208
Tl Tl 3.053 min
208
Tl
208 208 208
Pb Pb stable Pb

FIG. 23. Thorium-232 decay series.

52
opportunities. Particles of clay or sand co-produced from the reservoir may
also act as surfaces initiating scale deposition or may adsorb the cations. If
seawater, used to enhance oil recovery, mixes with the formation water, it will
increase the sulphate concentration of the produced water and enhance scale
deposition. Mixing may occur in the formation if ‘breakthrough’ occurs, which
will result in scale deposits in the well completion, or the waters may be
combined from different producing wells and mixed in topside plant and
equipment.
The mixed stream of oil, gas and water also carries the noble gas 222Rn
that is generated in the reservoir rock through decay of 226Ra. This radioactive
gas from the production zone travels with the gas–water stream and then
follows, preferentially, the dry export gases (Fig. 22). Consequently, equipment
from gas treatment and transport facilities may accumulate a very thin film of
210
Pb formed by the decay of short lived progeny of 222Rn adhering to the inner

FIG. 24. Precipitation of scales in production plant and equipment.

53
surfaces of gas lines. These 210Pb deposits are also encountered in liquefied
natural gas processing plants [33–37].
A quite different mechanism results in the mobilization, from the
reservoir rock, of stable lead that contains relatively high concentrations of the
radionuclide 210Pb. This mechanism, although not well understood [49], has
been observed in a number of gas production fields and results in the
deposition of thin, active lead films on the internal surfaces of production
equipment and the appearance of stable lead and 210Pb in sludge. Condensates,
extracted as liquids from natural gas, may contain relatively high levels of 222Rn
and unsupported 210Pb. In addition, 210Po is observed at levels in excess of its
grandparent 210Pb, indicating direct emanation from the reservoir (Fig. 22).

5.3. MAIN FORMS OF APPEARANCE OF NORM

The main forms of appearance of NORM in oil and gas production are
summarized in Table II.
An additional type of NORM associated with oil production has been
reported recently [51]. Biofouling/corrosion deposits occurring within various
parts of seawater injection systems, including injection wells and cross-country
pipelines, have been found to contain significantly enhanced concentrations of
uranium originating from the seawater (where it is present in concentrations of
a few parts per billion) as a result of the action of sulphate-reducing bacteria
under anaerobic conditions.
Scale deposition interferes in the long term with the production process
by blocking transport through the pay zone, flow lines and produced water
lines, and may interfere with the safe operation of the installation. Operators
try to prevent deposition of scales through the application of chemical scale
inhibitors in the seawater injection system, in the topside equipment located
downstream from the wellhead, or in the producing well [52]. To the extent that
these chemicals prevent the deposition of the sulphate and carbonate scales,
the radium isotopes will pass through the production system and be released
with the produced water. Methods of chemical descaling are applied in situ
using scale dissolvers when scaling interferes with production and mechanical
removal is not the method of choice [53, 54].
The extent of mobilization of radionuclides from reservoirs and their
appearance in produced water and production equipment varies greatly
between installations and between individual wells. In general, heavier scaling
is encountered more frequently in oil producing installations than in gas
production facilities. Over the production lifetime, the produced water may
become increasingly more saline, indicating the co-production of brine. This

54
TABLE II. NORM IN OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION

Type Radionuclides Characteristics Occurrence

Ra scales Ra-226, Ra-228, Hard deposits of Ca, Wet parts of production


Ra-224 and their Sr, Ba sulphates and installations
progeny carbonates Well completions
Ra sludge Ra-226, Ra-228, Sand, clay, paraffins, Separators, skimmer tanks
Ra-224 and their heavy metals
progeny
Pb deposits Pb-210 and its Stable lead deposits Wet parts of gas production
progeny installations
Well completions
Pb films Pb-210 and its Very thin films Oil and gas treatment and
progeny transport
Po films Po-210 Very thin films Condensates treatment
facilities
Condensates Po-210 Unsupported Gas production
Natural gas Rn-222 Noble gas Consumers domain
Pb-210, Po-210 Plated on surfaces Gas treatment and transport
systems
Produced Ra-226, Ra-228, More or less saline, Each production facility
water Ra-224 and/or large volumes in oil
Pb-210 production

may enhance the dissolution of the Group II elements — including radium —


from the reservoir rock in a manner similar to the effect of seawater injection
when it is used to enhance recovery. Therefore, over the lifetime of a well,
NORM may be virtually absent at first but then start to appear later. The
mobilization of lead with 210Pb is also variable. The extent to which sludge is
produced and the need to remove it regularly from separators and systems
handling produced water also vary strongly between reservoirs, individual
wells, installations and production conditions. As a consequence, there are
neither typical concentrations of radionuclides in NORM from oil and gas
production, nor typical amounts of scales and sludge being produced annually
or over the lifetime of a well.
In the separation of natural gas by liquefaction, radon can become
concentrated with gases that have similar liquefaction temperatures. It is
expected that 210Po and 210Pb would also become concentrated in certain parts
of the process [36].

55
5.4. RADIONUCLIDE CONCENTRATIONS IN NORM

A large amount of data has been collected over the years on the radio-
nuclide concentrations in NORM, although relatively few reports have been
published. It would appear that the concentrations of 226Ra, 228Ra and 224Ra in
scales and sludge range from less than 0.1 Bq/g up to 15 000 Bq/g [49]
(Table III). Generally, the activity concentrations of radium isotopes are lower
in sludge than in scales. The opposite applies to 210Pb, which usually has a
relatively low concentration in hard scales but which may reach a concentration
of more than 1000 Bq/g in lead deposits and sludge. Although thorium isotopes
are not mobilized from the reservoir, the decay product 228Th starts to grow in
from 228Ra after deposition of the latter. As a result, when scales containing
228
Ra grow older, the concentration of 228Th increases to about 150% of the
concentration of 228Ra still present.

5.5. RADIATION PROTECTION ASPECTS OF NORM

In the absence of suitable radiation protection measures, NORM in the


oil and gas industry could cause external exposure during production owing to

TABLE III. CONCENTRATIONS OF NORM IN OIL, GAS AND BY-


PRODUCTS (FROM REF. [49])

Radio- Crude oil Natural gas Produced water Hard scale Sludge
nuclide Bq/g Bq/m3 Bq/L Bq/g Bq/g

U-238 0.000 000 1–0.01 0.0003–0.1 0.001–0.5 0.005–0.01

Ra-226 0.0001–0.04 0.002–1200 0.1–15 000 0.05–800

Po-210 0–0.01 0.002–0.08 0.02–1.5 0.004–160

Pb-210 0.005–0.02 0.05–190 0.02–75 0.1–1300

Rn-222 5–200 000

Th-232 0.000 03–0.002 0.0003–0.001 0.001–0.002 0.002–0.01

Ra-228 0.3–180 0.05–2800 0.5–50

Ra-224 0.5–40

56
accumulations of gamma emitting radionuclides and internal exposures of
workers and other persons, particularly during maintenance, the transport of
waste and contaminated equipment, the decontamination of equipment, and
the processing and disposal of waste. Exposures of a similar nature may also
arise during the decommissioning of oil and gas production facilities and their
associated waste management facilities.

5.5.1. External exposure

The deposition of contaminated scales and sludge in pipes and vessels


may produce significant dose rates inside and outside these components
(Table IV). Short lived progeny of the radium isotopes, in particular 226Ra, emit
gamma radiation capable of penetrating the walls of these components, and the
high energy photon emitted by 208Tl (one of the progeny of 228Th) can
contribute significantly to the dose rate on outside surfaces when scale has
been accumulating over a period of several months. The dose rates depend on
the amount and activity concentrations of the radionuclides present inside and
the shielding provided by pipe or vessel walls. Maximum dose rates are usually
in the range of up to a few microsieverts per hour. In exceptional cases, dose
rates measured directly on the outside surfaces of production equipment have
reached several hundred microsieverts per hour [49, 55], which is about 1000
times greater than normal background values due to cosmic radiation and

TABLE IV. EXTERNAL GAMMA RADIATION DOSE RATES


OBSERVED IN SOME OIL PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING
FACILITIES

Location Dose rate (µSv/h)

Down hole tubing, safety valves (internal) up to 300

Wellheads, production manifold 0.1–22.5

Production lines 0.3–4

Separator (scale, measured internally) up to 200

Separator (scale, measured externally) up to 15

Water outlets 0.2–0.5

57
terrestrial radiation. The buildup of radium scales can be monitored without
opening plant or equipment (Fig. 25). Where scales are present, opening the
system for maintenance or for other purposes will increase dose rates. External
exposure can be restricted only by maximizing the distance from, and
minimizing duration of exposure to, the components involved. In practice,
restrictions on access and occupancy time are found to be effective in limiting
annual doses to low values.
Deposits consisting almost exclusively of 210Pb cannot be assessed by
measurements outside closed plant and equipment. Neither the low energy
gamma emissions of 210Pb nor the beta particles emitted penetrate the steel
walls. Therefore, 210Pb does not contribute significantly to external dose and its
presence can be assessed only when components are opened.

5.5.2. Internal exposure

Internal exposure to NORM may result from the ingestion or inhalation


of radionuclides. This may occur while working on or in open plant and
equipment, handling waste materials and surface contaminated objects, and
during the cleaning of contaminated equipment. Ingestion can also occur if

FIG. 25. Monitoring the outside of plant and equipment using a dose rate meter
(courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

58
precautions are not taken prior to eating, drinking, smoking, etc. More detail
on this issue is provided in Section 5.5.4.2.
Effective precautions are needed during the aforementioned operations
to contain the radioactive contamination and prevent its transfer to areas
where other persons might also be exposed. The non-radioactive characteristics
of scales and sludge also demand conventional safety measures, and therefore
the risk of ingesting NORM is likely to be very low indeed. However, cleaning
contaminated surfaces during repair, replacement, refurbishment or other
work may generate airborne radioactive material, particularly if dry abrasive
techniques are used. The exposure from inhalation could become significant
if effective personal protective equipment (including respiratory protection)
and/or engineered controls are not used.
The potential committed dose from inhalation depends on both the
physical and chemical characteristics of NORM. It is important to consider the
radionuclide composition and activity concentrations, the activity aerodynamic
size distribution of the particles (quantified by the activity median aerodynamic
diameter, or AMAD), and the chemical forms of the elements and the corre-
sponding lung absorption types. Table II-V (Schedule II) of the BSS [2] quotes
the following lung absorption types for the elements of interest for dose calcu-
lations:

(a) Radium (all compounds): medium (M)


(b) Lead (all compounds): fast (F)
(c) Polonium (all unspecified compounds): fast (F)
(oxides, hydroxides, nitrates): medium (M)
(d) Bismuth (nitrate): fast (F)
(all unspecified compounds): medium (M)
(e) Thorium (all unspecified compounds): medium (M)
(oxides, hydroxides): slow (S).

Table V gives the effective dose per unit intake of dust particles of 5 µm
AMAD (the default size distribution for normal work situations) and 1 µm
AMAD (a size distribution that may be more appropriate for work situations
such as those involving the use of high temperature cutting torches). For each
case, values are quoted for the slowest lung absorption type listed in the BSS (S
for thorium, M for radium, polonium and bismuth, and F for lead — as noted
above). In addition, values for 5 µm AMAD calculated by Silk [56] are quoted,
based on a more conservative assumption that all radionuclides are of lung
absorption type S.
Table V indicates that the inhalation of particles of 5 µm AMAD incorpo-
rating 226Ra (with its complete decay chain in equilibrium), 228Ra, and 224Ra

59
TABLE V. DOSE PER UNIT INTAKE FOR INHALATION OF
RADIONUCLIDES IN PARTICLES OF NORM SCALE

Committed effective dose per unit intake (Sv/Bq)


5 µm AMAD 1 µm AMAD
Radionuclide
Slowest lung absorption Slow (S) absorption Slowest lung absorption
type listed in BSS [2] type [56] type listed in BSS [2]

Ra-226 2.2 × 10–6 3.8 × 10–5 3.2 × 10–6


Pb-210 1.1 × 10–6 4.5 × 10–6 8.9 × 10–7
Po-210 2.2 × 10–6 2.8 × 10–6 3.0 × 10–6
Ra-228 1.7 × 10–6 1.2 × 10–5 2.6 × 10–6
Th-228 3.2 × 10–5 3.2 × 10–5 3.9 × 10–5
Ra-224 2.4 × 10 –6
2.8 × 10 –6
2.9 × 10–6

(with its complete decay chain in equilibrium), each at a concentration of


10 Bq/g, would deliver a committed effective dose per unit intake of about
0.1–1 mSv/g, the exact value depending on the extent of ingrowth of 228Th from
228
Ra and the lung absorption types assumed. For 1 µm AMAD particles, the
committed effective dose per unit intake would be about 25–30% higher (based
on the slowest lung absorption types listed in the BSS).

5.5.3. Decontamination of plant and equipment

The removal of NORM-containing scales and sludges from plant and


equipment, whether for production and safety reasons or during decommis-
sioning, needs to be carried out with adequate radiation protection measures
having been taken and with due regard for other relevant safety, waste
management and environmental aspects. In addition to the obvious industrial
and fire hazards, the presence of other contaminants such as hydrogen
sulphide, mercury and hydrocarbons (including benzene) may necessitate the
introduction of supplementary safety measures.
On-site decontamination is the method preferred by operators when the
accumulation of scales and sludges interferes with the rate and safety of oil and
gas production, especially when the components cannot be reasonably
removed and replaced or when they need no other treatment before continued
use. The work may be carried out by the operator’s workers but is usually
contracted out to service companies. It will necessitate arrangements, such as
the construction of temporary habitats, being made to contain any spillage of
hazardous material and to prevent the spread of contamination from the area

60
designated for the decontamination work. Decontamination work has to be
performed off the site where:

(a) On-site decontamination cannot be performed effectively and/or in a


radiologically safe manner;
(b) The plant or equipment has to be refurbished by specialists prior to
reinstallation;
(c) The plant or equipment needs to be decontaminated to allow clearance
from regulatory control for purposes of reuse, recycling or disposal as
normal waste.

Service companies hired to perform decontamination work need to be


made fully aware of the potential hazards and the rationale behind the
necessary precautions, and may need to be supervised by a qualified person.
The service companies may be able to provide specific facilities and equipment
for the safe conduct of the decontamination operations, for example a
converted freight container on the site (Fig. 26) or a designated area dedicated
to the task (Fig. 27). Personal protective measures will comprise protective

FIG. 26. Workers wearing personal protective equipment decontaminating a valve inside
an on-site facility (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board, UK).

61
FIG. 27. Barrier designating a controlled area to restrict access to NORM-contaminated
equipment stored outside a decontamination facility (courtesy: National Radiological
Protection Board, UK).

clothing and, in the case of handling dry scale, respiratory protection as well.
The regulatory body needs to set down conditions for the:

(a) Protection of workers, the public and the environment;


(b) Safe disposal of solid wastes;
(c) Discharge of contaminated water;
(d) Conditional or unconditional release of the decontaminated components.

Decontamination methods used by the oil and gas industry are described
in Appendix II.

5.5.4. Practical radiation protection measures

The requirements for radiation protection and safety established in the


BSS [2] apply to NORM associated with installations in the oil and gas industry.
The common goal in all situations is to keep radiation doses as low as
reasonably achievable, economic and social factors being taken into account
(ALARA), and below the regulatory dose limits for workers [1]. The practical
measures that need to be taken in order to reach these goals differ principally

62
for the two types of radiation exposure: through external radiation and internal
contamination.

5.5.4.1. Measures against external exposure

The presence of NORM in installations is unlikely to cause external


exposures approaching or exceeding annual dose limits for workers. External
dose rates from NORM encountered in practice are usually so low that
protective measures are not needed. In exceptional cases where there are
significant but localized dose rates, the following basic rules can be applied to
minimize any external exposure and its contribution to total dose:

(a) Minimizing the duration of any necessary external exposure;


(b) Ensuring that optimum distances be maintained between any accumu-
lation of NORM (installation part) and potentially exposed people;
(c) Maintaining shielding material between the NORM and potentially
exposed people.

The first two measures, in practice, involve the designation of supervised


or controlled areas to which access is limited or excluded. The use of shielding
material is an effective means of reducing dose rates around radiation sources
but it is not likely that it can be added to shield a bulk accumulation of NORM.
However, the principle may be applied by ensuring that NORM remains
enclosed within (and behind) the thick steel wall(s) of plant or equipment such
as a vessel for as long as feasible while preparations are made for the disposal
of the material. If large amounts of NORM waste of high specific activity are
stored, some form of localized shielding with lower activity wastes or materials
may be required to reduce gamma dose rates on the exterior of the waste
storage facility to acceptably low levels.

5.5.4.2. Measures against internal exposure

In the absence of suitable control measures, internal exposure may result


from the ingestion or inhalation of NORM while working with uncontained
material or as a consequence of the uncontrolled dispersal of radioactive
contamination. The risk of ingesting or inhaling any radioactive contamination
present is minimized by complying with the following basic rules whereby
workers:

(a) Use protective clothing in the correct manner to reduce the risk of trans-
ferring contamination [57];

63
(b) Refrain from smoking, drinking, eating, chewing (e.g. gum), applying
cosmetics (including medical or barrier creams, etc.), licking labels, or any
other actions that increase the risk of transferring radioactive materials to
the face during work;
(c) Use suitable respiratory protective equipment as appropriate to prevent
inhalation of any likely airborne radioactive contamination [57];
(d) Apply, where practicable, only those work methods that keep NORM
contamination wet or that confine it to prevent airborne contamination;
(e) Implement good housekeeping practices to prevent the spread of NORM
contamination;
(f) Observe industrial hygiene rules such as careful washing of protective
clothing and hands after finishing the work.

5.6. WASTE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS WITH RESPECT


TO NORM

5.6.1. Introduction

Solid and liquid wastes are generated in significant quantities during the
operating lives of oil and gas facilities. Additional quantities of other (mostly
solid) wastes may be produced during decontamination activities and during
the decommissioning and rehabilitation of the production facility and
associated waste management and treatment facilities. These wastes contain
naturally occurring radionuclides. Depending on the activity concentrations,
they may have radiological impacts on workers, as well as on members of the
public who may be exposed if the wastes are dispersed into the environment.
These radiological impacts are in addition to any impacts resulting from the
chemical composition of the wastes.
Various types of NORM waste are generated during oil and gas industry
operations, including:

(a) Produced water,


(b) Sludges and scales,
(c) Contaminated items,
(d) Wastes arising from waste treatment activities,
(e) Wastes arising from decommissioning activities.

The radionuclide activity concentrations in produced water are low, but


the volumes are large. The radionuclide activity concentrations in solid wastes
vary from low to high, but the volumes are always relatively small. The long

64
half-lives of the radionuclides have important implications for the management
of solid wastes because of the long time periods for which control may be
necessary. The fact that most of the wastes are depleted in the parent uranium
and/or thorium radionuclides also needs to be taken into consideration.

5.6.2. Wastes from the decontamination of plant and equipment

Decontamination of plant and equipment gives rise to different waste


streams depending on the type of contaminating material and the decontami-
nation method applied. For instance, in situ descaling produces water
containing the chemicals applied as well as the matrix and the radionuclides of
the scale. Mechanical decontamination by dry methods will produce the dry
scale as waste. Dry waste also arises from filter systems used to remove
radioactive aerosols from venting systems. Dry abrasive decontamination
without the use of filters is to be avoided, as airborne dispersal of the
contaminant may give rise to an additional waste stream that is difficult to
control. The types of waste stream generated by decontamination processes are
summarized below:

(a) Sludges removed from pipes, vessels and tanks;


(b) Solid scale suspended in water;
(c) Liquids containing dissolved scale and chemicals used for chemical
decontamination;
(d) Solid scale recovered from wet or dry abrasive decontamination
processes;
(e) Waste water resulting from removal of scale by sedimentation and/or
filtration of water used for wet abrasive methods, in particular high
pressure water jetting (HPWJ);
(f) Filters used to remove airborne particulates generated by dry abrasive
decontamination methods;
(g) Slag from melting facilities;
(h) Flue dust and off-gas (containing the more volatile naturally occurring
radionuclides) from melting facilities.

In practice, these waste streams contain not only naturally occuring radio-
nuclides but other constituents as well. These other constituents include the
compounds from chemical mixes used for decontamination, solid or liquid
organic residues from oil and gas purification and heavy metals. In particular,
mercury, lead and zinc are encountered frequently in combination with NORM
from oil and gas production. In practice, these other components in waste
streams from decontamination will demand adoption of additional safety

65
measures and may impose constraints on disposal options. Also, the volatility
of the heavy metals mentioned above will limit the practicability of melting as a
decontamination option.

5.6.3. Waste management strategy and programmes

Radioactive waste management comprises managerial, administrative


and technical steps associated with the safe handling and management of
radioactive waste, from generation to release from further regulatory control
or to its acceptance at a storage or disposal facility. It is important that the
radioactive waste management strategy forms an integral part of the overall
waste management strategy for the operation — non-radiological waste aspects
such as chemical toxicity also need to be considered, since these will influence
the selection of the optimal waste management options for the radioactive
waste streams. For sludges in particular, the constraints on waste disposal or
processing options imposed by non-radioactive contaminants will in many
cases be greater than those imposed by radioactive components.
In view of the range of NORM waste types that can be generated in the
industry at different times and the possibility of changes occurring in the ways
in which they are generated and managed, particular attention needs to be
given to the radiation protection issues which may arise in their management
and regulatory control. Because of the nature of the industry, and the fact that
the volumes and/or activity concentrations are relatively small, there is often
limited knowledge among the staff about the radiation protection aspects of
waste management. While the safety principles [3] are the same for managing
any amount of radioactive waste regardless of its origin, there may be
significant differences in the practical focus of waste management programmes
[28]. Good operating practice will focus on ways in which the amount of
radioactive waste can be minimized.

5.6.3.1. Risk assessment

A waste management risk assessment is a quantitative process that


considers all the relevant radiological and non-radiological issues associated
with developing a waste management strategy. The overall aim is to ensure that
human health and the environment are afforded an acceptable level of
protection in line with current international standards [1–3]. Prior to any
detailed risk assessment, there will be an overall assessment of waste
management options that will not be based only on radiological criteria. At the
detailed risk assessment stage, the following radiological considerations are
addressed in a quantitative manner:

66
(a) Identification and characterization of radioactive waste source terms;
(b) Occupational and public exposures associated with the various waste
management steps from waste generation through to disposal;
(c) Long term radiological impact of the disposal method on humans and on
the environment;
(d) All phases of the operation from construction to decommissioning;
(e) Optimal design of waste management facilities;
(f) All significant scenarios and pathways by which workers, the public and
the environment may be subject to radiological (and non-radiological)
hazards.

The results of the assessment are then compared with criteria specified by
the regulatory body. These criteria normally include annual dose limits for
workers exposed during operations and for members of the public exposed to
radioactive discharges during operation and after closure. The regulatory body
may specify, in addition, derived levels and limits related to activity concen-
tration and surface contamination. These derived values are usually situation
specific and may relate to materials, items or areas that qualify for clearance
from regulatory control.

5.6.3.2. Regulatory approach

It is important that the regulatory body achieve a consistent regulatory


approach for protection against the hazards associated with NORM wastes in
line with international waste management principles [3] and the BSS [2].
Regulatory bodies unfamiliar with control over radioactive wastes in the oil
and gas industry need to develop a technical and administrative framework in
order to address appropriately the radiation protection and waste management
issues specific to that industry.
Regulatory frameworks for the control of radioactive wastes generated in
the oil and gas industry are under development in several Member States. For
example, the management of NORM residues from industrial processes
(including the oil and gas industry) by Member States of the European Union
is now subject to the requirements of Article 40 of the Council Directive 96/29/
Euratom of 13 May 1996 [58]. Implementation of this is in various states of
progress and involves the identification of work activities that may give rise to
significant exposure of workers or of members of the public and, for those
identified industries, the development of national radiation protection
regulations in accordance with some or all of the relevant Articles of the
Directive.

67
5.6.4. Characteristics of NORM wastes in the oil and gas industry

Waste characterization and classification are important elements at all


stages of waste management, from waste generation to disposal. Their uses and
applications include:

(a) Identification of hazards;


(b) Planning and design of waste management facilities;
(c) Selection of the most appropriate waste management option;
(d) Selection of the most appropriate processing, treatment, packaging,
storage and/or disposal methods.

It is important that records be compiled and retained for an appropriate


period of time. Practical guidance on methods of NORM waste characteri-
zation (from a radiological point of view only) is provided in Appendix IV.

5.6.4.1. Produced water

Produced water volumes vary considerably between installations and


over the lifetime of a field, with a typical range of 2400–40 000 m3/d for oil
producing facilities and 1.5–30 m3/d for gas production [59]. Produced water
may contain 226Ra, 228Ra, 224Ra and 210Pb in concentrations of up to a few
hundred becquerels per litre but is virtually free of 228Th. Mean concentrations
of 4.1 Bq/L of 226Ra and 2.1 Bq/L of 228Ra were recorded from a recent survey
of Norwegian offshore oil production installations [60] but concentrations at
individual facilities may well reach levels 50 times higher. Ratios between the
concentrations of the radionuclides mentioned vary considerably. As a conse-
quence, the dominant radionuclide may be 226Ra or 228Ra or 210Pb.
Produced water contains formation water from the reservoir and/or (with
gas production) condensed water. If injection of seawater is used to maintain
reservoir pressure in oil production it might break through to production wells
and appear in the produced water. Produced water contains dissolved hydro-
carbons such as monocyclic aromatics and dispersed oil. The concentration of
dissolved species, in particular Cl– and Na+, can be very high when brine from
the reservoir is co-produced. Other constituents comprise organic chemicals
introduced into the production system by the operator for production or for
technical reasons such as scale and corrosion inhibition. A wide range of
inorganic compounds, in widely differing concentrations, occurs in produced
water. Cation concentrations can be very high when brine is co-produced. They
comprise not only the elements of low potential toxicity: Na, K, Ca, Ba, Sr and
Mg, but also the more toxic elements Pb, Zn, Cd and Hg. The health

68
implications of the last two are the focus of particular attention by regulatory
bodies and international conventions.

5.6.4.2. Solid wastes

Solid NORM wastes include sludge, mud, sand and hard porous deposits
and scales from the decontamination of tubulars and different types of topside
equipment. The activity concentrations of 226Ra, 228Ra, 224Ra and their decay
products in deposits and sludge may vary over a wide range, from less than
1 Bq/g to more than 1000 Bq/g [34]. For comparison, the average concentration
of radionuclides in the 238U decay series (including 226Ra) in soils is about
0.03 Bq/g [61]. A production facility may generate quantities of scales and
sludge ranging from less than 1 t/a to more than 10 t/a, depending on its size
and other characteristics [62, 63]. Decontamination of equipment will produce
solid and/or liquid waste, the latter also being contaminated with non-
radioactive substances if chemical methods have been used (Section 5.6.2).
The deposition of hard sulphate and carbonate scales in gas production
tubulars, valves, pumps and transport pipes is sometimes accompanied by the
trapping of elemental mercury mobilized from the reservoir rock. Deposits of
210
Pb have very high concentrations of stable lead mobilized from the reservoir
rock. They appear as metallic lead and as sulphides, oxides and hydroxides.
Sludges removed from oil and gas production facilities contain not only
sand, silt and clay from the reservoir but also non-radioactive hazardous
substances. Therefore, their waste characteristics are not limited to the
radioactive constituents. In all sludges in which 210Pb is the dominant radio-
nuclide the stable lead concentration is also high. Sludges also contain:

(a) Non-volatile hydrocarbons, including waxes;


(b) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, xylene, toluene and benzene;
(c) Varying and sometimes high concentrations of the heavy metals Pb, Zn
and Hg.

In sludges from certain gas fields in Western Europe, mercury concentra-


tions of more than 3% (dry weight) are not uncommon.

5.6.5. Disposal methods

Various disposal methods for liquid and solid NORM wastes are
described in this section. The use of these methods by the oil and gas industry is
not necessarily an indication that such methods constitute international best
practice. Regulatory review, inspection, oversight and control over these

69
disposal activities and methods have been generally lacking in the past. The
issue of NORM waste management — and particularly disposal — has been
identified in recent years as an area of radiation protection and safety that
needs to be formally addressed by national regulatory bodies wherever oil and
gas production facilities are operating.
The process of selecting and developing a disposal method for NORM
wastes forms an essential part of the formal radioactive waste management
programme for a production facility, although the process is generally not
conducted at the level of individual production facilities but at company level
or at the level of associations of companies. In addition, it is important to
commence selection of the optimal waste disposal method at an early stage of
the project. In developing a waste management strategy the overall aims are to:

(a) Maximize the reduction of risks to humans and to the environment


associated with a particular disposal method in a cost effective manner;
(b) Comply with occupational and public dose limits and minimize doses in
accordance with the ALARA principle;
(c) Comply with all relevant national and international laws and treaties;
(d) Comply with all national regulatory requirements.

Disposal methods for NORM wastes fall into four main categories:

(1) Dilution and dispersal of the waste into the environment, e.g. liquid or
gaseous discharges;
(2) Concentration and containment of the waste at authorized waste disposal
facilities;
(3) Processing of the waste with other chemical waste by incineration or
other methods;
(4) Disposal of the waste by returning it back to the initial source of the
material (reinjection into the reservoir).

NORM wastes meeting the clearance criteria [24] specified by the


regulatory body may be disposed of as normal (non-radioactive) waste.

5.6.5.1. Regulatory review and approval

The disposal of NORM radioactive wastes originating from the oil and
gas industry will require the approval of the regulatory body with regard to:

(a) The acceptability and long term safety of the proposed disposal method;

70
(b) The risk assessments submitted by the owner/operator to demonstrate
that the disposal method meets all relevant national and international
legal and regulatory requirements.

5.6.5.2. Safety implications of waste disposal methods

Disposal methods are discussed in Sections 5.6.5.5 and 5.6.5.6. Where


appropriate, key safety issues and waste management concerns are also listed,
since the adoption of a method without the appropriate risk assessment and
regulatory approval can lead to significant environmental impacts and
associated remediation costs — particular examples include the disposal of
produced water in seepage ponds (Section 5.6.5.5(c)) and the shallow land
burial of scales and sludges (Section 5.6.5.6(d)). Ultimately, the acceptability of
a particular disposal method for a specific type of NORM waste has to be
decided on the basis of a site specific risk assessment. Since the characteristics
of particular types of NORM waste (i.e. solid or liquid) arising from different
facilities are not necessarily uniform, it cannot be assumed that the disposal
methods described are suitable for general application, i.e. at any location.
Waste characteristics such as the radionuclides present, their activity
concentrations, and the physical and chemical forms and half-life of the
dominant radionuclide can have a major impact on the suitability of a
particular disposal method. Site specific factors such as geology, climate, and
groundwater and surface water characteristics will also influence strongly the
local suitability of a particular disposal method. Only by considering all the
relevant factors in the risk assessment can a considered decision be made
regarding the optimal local disposal option.

5.6.5.3. Significant non-radiological aspects

The selected disposal method, in addition to meeting the fundamental


principles of radioactive waste management [3], also has to take account of the
environmental impact of the significant non-radiological hazards associated
with the wastes — this applies in particular to sludges that contain hydro-
carbons and heavy metals. Discussion of these non-radiological hazards lies
outside the scope of this Safety Report, but they may constitute a dominant
aspect in the selection of a disposal method.

5.6.5.4. Storage of solid radioactive wastes

There may be a need to accumulate and store solid NORM wastes (such
as scales) and contaminated objects (such as pipes) prior to taking further steps

71
leading to disposal. The regulatory body has the responsibility for authorizing
facilities for storage of radioactive waste, including storage of contaminated
objects. A well-designed storage facility will:

(a) Have clear markings to identify its purpose,


(b) Contain the waste material adequately,
(c) Provide suitable warnings,
(d) Restrict access.

The regulatory body will normally require the waste to be encapsulated


or otherwise isolated to an approved standard and the dose rate on the outside
of the storage facility to be kept within values acceptable to the regulatory
body. The regulatory body will probably also impose specific requirements for
record keeping of the stored waste.

5.6.5.5. Examples of disposal methods for produced water

The large volumes of produced water preclude storage and treatment as a


practicable disposal method. The impracticability of treatment applies to both
radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants, although some form of
treatment is usually needed to meet the requirements set by regulatory bodies
with respect to non-radioactive contaminants such as dissolved and dispersed
hydrocarbons. Methods that have been used to dispose of produced water
include (a) reinjection into the reservoir, (b) discharge into marine waters and
(c) discharge into seepage ponds.

(a) Reinjection into the reservoir

Reinjection into the reservoir from which the water originated is a


common practice at many onshore and offshore production facilities, although
there are technical constraints such as the potential for breakthrough into
production wells. No added radiological risks would seem to be associated with
this disposal method as long as the radioactive material carried by the
produced water is returned in the same or lower concentration to the
formations from which it was derived (the confirmation of which might entail
taking some measurements). Should this not be the case, it is important that
any regulatory decision on this method of disposal be supported by an
appropriate risk assessment.

72
(b) Discharge into marine waters

Many production installations on the continental shelf discharge their


produced water into estuaries and the sea. Regulatory requirements with
respect to the discharge of NORM in this way differ between countries; in some
cases there are no requirements at all and in others authorizations are required
if activity concentrations exceed the discharge criteria set by the regulatory
bodies. Some discharges may be subject to international maritime conventions
such as the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of
Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (the London Convention) and the Convention
for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, 1992
(the OSPAR Convention). Various reports that address the fate of radio-
nuclides and the radiological risks associated with discharges of NORM-
containing produced waters pertain to discharges in coastal and offshore areas
of the Gulf of Mexico and are based partly on monitoring results [64–69]. Risk
assessments of discharges from platforms on the Dutch continental shelf are
based on modelling of dispersion and exposure pathways [70]. These risk
assessments show that the calculated level of risk to humans is strongly
dependent on local conditions (estuary, coastal or open sea) and on the degree
of conservatism applied in the dispersion and exposure pathway modelling. It is
important that risk assessments such as these are carried out and used as the
basis for regulatory requirements with respect to this method of disposal.

(c) Discharge into seepage ponds

At several onshore oil field locations, the produced water is discharged to


form artificial lagoons, ponds or seepage pits (Fig. 28). Subsequently, the
released waters drain to ground leaving radioactive deposits associated with
the soil that eventually require remedial action in accordance with radiation
protection principles [71–73] (Fig. 29). It has been estimated that 30 000
contaminated waste pits and bottom sediment sites exist in coastal Louisiana,
United States of America [74].
A key factor in determining the acceptability of this method is the radio-
logical impact of the contaminated water on local surface water and
groundwater and the potential accumulation of radionuclides in local biota.
The degree of impact depends on several factors, including:

(a) The radionuclide activity levels in the produced water,


(b) The proportion of the activity contained in the deposited salts,

73
FIG. 28. Lagoons of produced water (courtesy: Atomic Energy Commission of Syria).

(c) The degree of dilution into local surface water and groundwater,
(d) The volumes produced.

Risk assessments incorporating mathematical modelling can be used to


estimate the local contamination and the resulting doses received by the critical
group. The regulatory body will then have to make a decision regarding the
acceptability of the disposal method.
This method can be considered as a form of waste treatment (concentrate
and contain) in that the dissolved radionuclides are converted into solid
deposits. The solid waste materials, including soil contaminated by the
downward migration of radionuclides, will have to be collected, packaged and
disposed of in a manner similar to those specified for scales and sludges
(Section 5.6.5.6), or transported in bulk to a burial site that will isolate the
waste more effectively than the original seepage pond area. The land areas
require remediation and radiation surveys of residual contamination to be
undertaken in order to obtain clearance from the regulatory body for future
unrestricted use of the land. The regulatory body needs to specify the clearance
levels to which the land must be decontaminated.

74
FIG. 29. Remediation of contaminated land after drying the lagoon (courtesy: Atomic
Energy Commission of Syria).

In considering this disposal method, the following aspects need to be


addressed:

(a) Selection of a suitable site;


(b) Controls to prevent public access to the area;
(c) Risk assessments to determine the human and environmental impacts,
including long term implications, arising from contamination of soil,
groundwater and surface water;
(d) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas;
(e) Quality assurance (QA) and record keeping programmes such as those
for waste inventories;
(f) Transport costs and compliance with transport regulations [15];
(g) Cleanup and remediation costs;
(h) Disposal of the solid residues as radioactive wastes.

75
5.6.5.6. Examples of disposal methods for scales and sludges

NORM scales and sludges have a wide range of radionuclide activity


levels and half-lives. These are produced in varying quantities during the life of
an oil or gas facility. Various disposal methods are practised by Member States
on a routine basis. Other methods have been evaluated by practical application
and yet others have been assessed on a theoretical basis only. Some disposal
methods are subject to international maritime conventions such as the London
Convention and the OSPAR Convention. A brief summary with a few selected
references is presented below.

(1) Discharge into marine waters

The discharge of solid NORM wastes from offshore platforms is an allowed


practice on the continental shelf of the United Kingdom and Norway [55, 75].
Limits are set on residual hydrocarbons and particle diameter. As regards the
UK, operators are required to obtain authorization for these discharges and to
keep records. Intentional discharge of solid NORM wastes with produced water
is not allowed on the Dutch continental shelf. This method of disposal can result
in the buildup of localized concentrations of scales around offshore rigs over a
period of years, and the following aspects need to be addressed:

(a) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts;
(b) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas;
(c) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as waste inventories.

(2) Injection by hydraulic fracturing

Methods of disposal that employ hydraulic fracturing have been


developed and used for offshore generated solid NORM wastes in the Gulf of
Mexico [76, 77]. Hydraulic fracturing is also considered in the generic radio-
logical dose assessments carried out for various NORM disposal options [78]
and for a Class II well1 [79]. In considering this disposal method, the following
aspects need to be addressed:

1
Class II injection wells are a specific category of injection well used by the oil
and gas industry to dispose of salt water produced in conjunction with oil or gas, to inject
fluids to enhance oil recovery, or to store hydrocarbon liquids.

76
(a) Site selection in relation to the long term stability of the surrounding
geological structures and the required depth of emplacement;
(b) Possible need for encapsulation/stabilization (e.g. in concrete) of the solid
wastes;
(c) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts;
(d) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination to public areas;
(e) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as those for waste
inventories.

(3) Disposal in abandoned wells

Disposal in abandoned wells involves the emplacement of NORM solids,


whether encapsulated or not, between plugs in the casings of abandoned wells.
The method has been the subject of radiological dose assessments [78] and has
been described as a preferred option for onshore disposal of scales and
mercury-containing sludges [80]. In considering this disposal method, the
following aspects need to be addressed:

(a) Site selection with respect to the long term stability of the surrounding
geological structures and the required depth of emplacement — this
should be viewed in relation to the half-life of the longest lived radio-
nuclide 226Ra (1600 years only). It should also be borne in mind that long
term stability of an abandoned and plugged well will be required in any
case to eliminate the risk of a blow-out.
(b) Possible need for encapsulation and the associated costs.
(c) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts, including long term implications, arising from groundwater
contamination.
(d) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas.
(e) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as those for waste
inventories.

Proof of long term performance of the isolation of the waste is likely to be


more difficult to provide in the case of non-radioactive constituents (which do
not disappear by decay) than in the case of radioactive constituents.

77
The Dutch Government requires ‘proof of retrievability’ for sludges
disposed of in abandoned wells.

(4) Surface disposal

Shallow land burial is discussed as one of the NORM waste disposal


options in a study made by the American Petroleum Institute [81] and is
described as being practised on a limited scale in Texas [82] and in three other
states in the USA [63, 83]. Remediation problems caused by earthen pit
disposal of scale and sludge appear to be considerable [84]. The presence of
non-radioactive contaminants is one of the more important factors to be
considered, and makes this method of disposal an unlikely option for sludges.
Smith et al. [85] discuss the radiological assessment of NORM waste disposal in
non-hazardous waste landfills. Operational guidance on possible shallow
ground disposal methods is available in Ref. [86]. The following aspects need to
be addressed:

(a) Selection of a suitable site requiring minimum depth of emplacement. It


is particularly important that a suitable site be selected for such a waste
management facility. The site selection process should focus on taking
maximum advantage of desirable characteristics with regard to
minimizing the impact of wastes and ensuring the long term stability of
the facility. The various options and the final decision will be subject to
economic, technical and practical constraints. Factors that need to be
considered in the site selection process include:
(i) Anticipated duration of the facility, i.e. temporary or final;
(ii) Climate and meteorology;
(iii) Hydrology and flooding;
(iv) Geography;
(v) Geology, geochemistry and geomorphology;
(vi) Seismicity;
(vii) Mineralogy;
(viii) Demography and land use;
(ix) Biota;
(x) Amenability to decommissioning and the permanent disposal of
wastes.
(b) Institutional control issues.
(c) Long term stability of the facility.
(d) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts, including long term implications, arising from groundwater
contamination.

78
(e) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas.
(f) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as those for waste
inventories.
(g) Transport costs and compliance with transport regulations [15].

(5) Land dispersal

Land dispersal (also known as ‘landspreading’ or ‘landfarming’), with or


without dilution, has been described as “a long standing waste disposal method
that has been available to the petroleum industry” [87], but its acceptability for
the disposal of sludges is doubtful because of the presence of heavy metals and
toxic hydrocarbons. The study cited addresses potential radiation doses to
workers and the public, as well as addressing regulatory aspects. The following
aspects need to be addressed:

(a) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts, including long term implications, arising from groundwater
contamination;
(b) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas;
(c) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as those for waste
inventories;
(d) Transport costs and compliance with transport regulations [15].

(6) Deep underground disposal

Deep underground disposal is a well-studied method for disposal of high


and intermediate level radioactive wastes from the nuclear fuel cycle. Disposal
in salt caverns has been described as a potential method for NORM waste from
the oil and gas industry [88]. Other possibilities include deep disposal in nearby
disused metal mines. The practical potential of these methods depends strongly
on the availability of suitable non-operating mines close to the oil and gas
production regions. Transport costs could have a significant impact on the
practicability of this option as suitable sites may be located far away from the
oil and gas production areas. The following aspects would need to be addressed
in considering this disposal method:

79
(a) Costs of setting up, operating and maintaining such a repository in
comparison with the costs associated with other disposal methods;
(b) Repository location in relation to the oil and gas producing areas;
(c) Selection of a suitable site requiring minimum depth of emplacement;
(d) Waste treatment, handling and packaging;
(e) Institutional control issues;
(f) Long term stability of the facility;
(g) Transport costs and compliance with transport regulations [15];
(h) Need for risk assessments to determine the impacts on the public and on
the environment;
(i) Possible need for occupational risk assessments and radiation protection
programmes for certain activities or areas, to control exposures and limit
the spread of contamination into public areas;
(j) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as waste inventories.

(7) Recycling by melting

The recycling, by melting, of scrap metal contaminated with NORM can


be regarded as a potential disposal method as well as a decontamination
method. The NORM contamination is mostly concentrated and contained in
the slag [55], with low residual activity being diluted and dispersed throughout
the product or steel billet. However, volatile radionuclides (210Pb and 210Po)
become concentrated in the off-gas dust and fume and may constitute an
exposure or waste management issue.
A recycling plant dedicated to NORM-contaminated scrap is operated in
Germany [89] and represents one option in the approach to recycling by
melting. A preferred option would seem to be the melting of contaminated
scrap with larger quantities of uncontaminated scrap, which — together with
added iron and other inputs — results in a throughput of NORM-contaminated
scrap that is small compared with the throughput of uncontaminated
materials [90]. The addition of uncontaminated scrap, together with iron and
other inputs, results in sufficient dilution of the contaminated scrap to ensure
that the activity concentrations of natural radionuclides in the slag and in the
emissions to the atmosphere are not enhanced significantly. The most
significant radiological aspect is likely to be the occupational exposure
associated with segmentation of the scrap by cutting or shearing to satisfy the
size limitations imposed by the melting operation.
The feasibility of this method of disposal and the associated economic,
regulatory and policy issues are discussed in Ref. [91]. The radiological aspects
are presented in more detail in Refs [78, 90]. Issues that need to be addressed
include:

80
(a) The possible need for dilution of the contaminated scrap metal with
uncontaminated scrap metal to achieve clearance of the steel billets from
regulatory control. This will depend on contamination levels; the
regulatory body will have to specify appropriate clearance levels for the
radionuclides of concern.
(b) The partitioning behaviour of the main radioactive elements associated
with different NORM types; Th (from the decay of 228Ra) and Ra
partition to the slag, while Po and Pb are emitted with, or recovered from,
the off-gas.
(c) The safe disposal of the contaminated slag and other wastes such as flue
dust.
(d) Need for risk assessments to determine the human and environmental
impacts and possible need for radiation protection programmes for
certain activities or areas, and to control exposures and limit the spread of
contamination into public areas.
(e) Need for QA and record keeping programmes such as those for waste
inventories and activity levels in the slag and product.

The recycling of radioactively contaminated scrap metal has been increas-


ingly restricted in recent times because of the potential legal liabilities of metal
dealers and scrap merchants [92, 93]. Consequently, almost all large metal
dealers and scrap steel smelting operations have installed portal gamma
radiation monitors at their premises for the purposes of identifying and
rejecting consignments of scrap metals contaminated with radioactive
materials, sealed radiation sources and NORM. Consignments tend to be
rejected, perhaps unnecessarily, even when it is proven that the portal monitor
alarm has been triggered only by NORM.

6. DECOMMISSIONING OF OIL
AND GAS PRODUCTION FACILITIES

6.1. INTRODUCTION

When an oil or gas reservoir has been depleted to the extent that further
economic exploitation is no longer viable then:

81
(a) The wells will be abandoned and the production and transport systems
decommissioned and dismantled;
(b) The ancillary offshore and onshore structures (e.g. waste management,
storage and treatment facilities) may become redundant and may need to
be dismantled and/or returned to the public domain for unrestricted use;
(c) The owner or operator will request that the regulatory body terminate
the licence for possession, use and processing of radioactive materials.

It is important that the decommissioning aspects of a project be


considered at an early stage in order to:

(a) Limit the quantities of radioactive waste generated;


(b) Limit the areas requiring decontamination;
(c) Ensure the selection of adequately safe, cost effective disposal options;
(d) Optimize the associated costs;
(e) Ensure compliance with the requirements of the regulatory body;
(f) Minimize doses to workers and to the public in accordance with the
ALARA principle.

The licensee (i.e. the operator or owner) is responsible for ensuring that
all buildings, land and equipment to be used for unrestricted purposes comply
with applicable surface contamination and activity concentration criteria
defined by the regulatory body. The licensee will need to:

(a) Perform an initial survey;


(b) Plot the survey points;
(c) Indicate any areas of elevated radiation levels;
(d) Submit all information to the regulatory body for review, approval and
licence termination.

The decommissioning of oil and gas production facilities and their


associated structures such as waste management and storage facilities gives rise
to a variety of waste materials and items, some of which may be radioactive
(e.g. sealed and unsealed sources, NORM scales, contaminated equipment, and
concrete and soil). Given the scale of the oil and gas industry worldwide,
decontamination activities (Appendix II) will become increasingly important
and generate significant quantities of wastes over an extended period of time.

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6.2. STRATEGY

The preferred strategy for the decommissioning process will include the
following steps:

(a) Decontamination of contaminated items to levels defined by the


regulatory body as suitable for unrestricted release;
(b) Release of all decontaminated facilities and areas for unrestricted public
use (clearance from regulatory control);
(c) Final disposal of radioactive wastes and remaining contaminated items in
a facility authorized by the regulatory body.

6.3. KEY ISSUES AND ACTIVITIES

The decommissioning process involves numerous issues and activities


including:

(a) Development of the decommissioning strategy and plan and associated


QA programmes;
(b) Development of dismantling and decontamination strategies;
(c) Assessment of risks to workers, the public and the environment during
and after the decommissioning activities;
(d) Submissions to the regulator, e.g. plans, strategies, records, reports and
survey results;
(e) Approval by the regulatory body;
(f) Identification of potentially contaminated structures and areas;
(g) Identification, quantification and characterization of hazardous waste
materials;
(h) Identification and characterization of radioactive wastes (this would
include surveys to locate and identify contaminated areas, items and
materials);
(i) Development of strategies to minimize the generation of radioactive
wastes during decommissioning;
(j) Surveys to assess the levels of gamma dose rate, and alpha and beta
surface contamination;
(k) Implementation of appropriate radiological protection programmes for
workers, the public and the environment;
(l) A wide range of decontamination activities, e.g. components, buildings
and land areas (Appendix II);
(m) Disposal of all radioactive wastes at authorized facilities;

83
(n) Land remediation activities;
(o) Transport of radioactive materials in accordance with applicable
regulations [15];
(p) A final radiation survey after dismantling, removal and remediation
activities have been completed.

General guidance on the principles, planning, approach and key issues


involved in the decommissioning of industrial facilities and sources is given in
the Safety Guide on Decommissioning of Medical, Industrial and Research
Facilities [94].

7. ORGANIZATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES
AND TRAINING IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

7.1. INTRODUCTION

Radiation protection and the safe management of radioactive waste in


the oil and gas industry rely on the people and organizations involved fulfilling
certain responsibilities. These organizations are:

(a) The various regulatory bodies;


(b) The operating organizations (operators) responsible for the oil and gas
fields and the distribution of the products;
(c) The service companies (or organizations) that work under contract for
the operator, including but not limited to companies that carry out
radiography, work involving gauges, well logging, tracer and workover
services, fishing operations and NORM decontamination operations.

It is also important for all workers directly involved in work with ionizing
radiation, especially those with primary qualifications in other disciplines such
as diving, to be adequately trained and competent for any necessary
involvement. Information must be provided to those who are not involved but
who may indirectly be affected by the work and who need information or
specific instructions to minimize their potential exposure. The level of
instruction needs to be appropriate for the different levels of competence and
recipients will include qualified experts, radiation protection officers (RPOs),
qualified workers occupationally exposed to radiation, general workers and

84
other persons. Suggestions for training are given in Appendix III and discussed
in detail in Refs [95, 96]. It is important that suitably qualified professionals —
those whose credentials have been approved by the regulatory body as
required — provide the training of all persons concerned. Trainers must be
familiar with the particular technologies, specific procedures and working
environments in the oil and gas industry.

7.2. REGULATORY BODIES

National arrangements may specify a number of organizations that have


regulatory authority over different aspects of the oil and gas industry. They
may, for example, include organizations that regulate:

(a) Development and production of oil and gas;


(b) Transport of radioactive and other hazardous material;
(c) Possession, use and disposal of radioactive material.

These various regulatory bodies must co-ordinate any overlapping


responsibilities. In these circumstances it is important to identify a lead
regulatory body which will assume responsibility for radioactive material and
which will promulgate appropriate rules and regulations and ensure their
enforcement. Additionally, it will have to develop a method for authorizing
persons and organizations that need to own, use, store, transport, or dispose of
radioactive material. It is desirable that the regulatory body or its nominated
agents be able to perform periodic on-site inspections to ensure compliance
with the applicable rules and regulations. The inspection will include a review
of required documentation and a physical inspection of the facilities to
determine whether approved safe practices are in use. Checks will be made to
confirm that adequate training is provided and that it is in accordance with
programmes approved by the regulatory body as required. It is important that
any findings resulting from an inspection be communicated to the persons or
organizations involved and that follow-up inspections be performed to verify
that corrective actions have been implemented [97, 98].
The regulatory body needs to establish criteria to ensure that it receives
notification from the licensee of any accidents or incidents involving
radioactive material. The types of incident reported include spills, leaks or any
other loss of control of radioactive material, excessive exposures to radiation
workers or members of the public, and lost radioactive material. Reports of
loss include all relevant information such as the make and identification
numbers of equipment and details of the radioactive material involved,

85
i.e. nuclide, activity and serial number, where applicable. The regulatory body
arranges that the licensee’s reports include a description of the incident, inves-
tigations of exposures of individuals, and actions taken to prevent a recurrence
of that type of incident.
The regulatory body needs to develop a system to document and track
incidents and accidents that occur during the use of radioactive material and a
means of disseminating the ‘lessons learned’ to other similar bodies and to the
industry. This is essential for a regulatory programme to be able to identify
trends and take corrective actions to prevent similar future accidents and/or
incidents.

7.3. THE OPERATING ORGANIZATION (OPERATOR)

For the purposes of this Section, the operating organization is the organi-
zation responsible for the production and distribution of the oil and gas
extracted by the facility (or facilities) under its authority. This organization may
or may not be licensed to own, possess, or use radioactive material including
NORM. The operator establishes sufficient methods, for example employing a
qualified expert in the use of risk assessment techniques, for determining
whether the operations involve work with ionizing radiation and therefore
require a licence and/or safe systems of work for the operations. The operator
establishes procedures to ensure the safe and controlled handling of
radioactive material brought onto the premises by other licensees. If the
activities involving ionizing radiation fall under the direct responsibility of the
operator, then the operator has to apply for an authorization, as required by
the regulatory body. The operator further needs to appoint an RPO who is
technically competent and knowledgeable in radiation protection matters. The
RPO will take the lead in developing and implementing a radiation protection
plan. The duties of the RPO may include:

(a) Monitoring radiation and contamination;


(b) Identifying and maintaining an inventory of accumulations of NORM;
(c) Maintaining an inventory of any other sources of radiation possessed by
the operator;
(d) Approving and overseeing the work of any contractor or service company
using ionizing radiation on the operator’s property;
(e) Providing hazard assessments and identifying controlled and supervised
areas;
(f) Using a QA programme for maintaining protection measures;

86
(g) Controlling access to controlled areas;
(h) Arranging radiological assessments of samples and individual dose
assessments;
(i) Drawing up and reviewing written administrative procedures for work in
areas where radioactive material is handled;
(j) Checking to ensure compliance with authorized conditions and other
regulatory requirements;
(k) Supervising work in areas that are controlled as a result of radiation
levels or storage of radioactive material;
(l) Advising and requiring the use of appropriate personal protective
equipment in controlled areas;
(m) Providing general advice to, and ensuring the training of, personnel;
(n) Investigating and documenting incidents or unusual occurrences;
(o) Submitting any reports to the regulatory body, as dictated by national
regulations;
(p) Maintaining records and documents in accordance with national regula-
tions.

The operator establishes procedures that ensure the safe handling of


radioactive material including NORM. Moreover, the operator develops safety
procedures that inform the employees of the type and nature of the radiation
and how to protect against unnecessary exposure to radiation. The operator
also establishes a method for maintaining the inventory and for tracking the
accumulation of NORM and acceptable radioactive waste management
methods. It is desirable that the safety procedures lay down the responsibilities
at all levels of the operating organization.
The RPO has the authority to halt any operation if an uncontrolled or
unacceptable radiation hazard exists or is perceived to exist. The RPO is
responsible for individual monitoring, workplace monitoring and maintenance
of any necessary protective equipment for the personnel. The RPO is
responsible for ensuring that occupationally exposed employees are
adequately trained or instructed as to the radiation hazards, and that
information on radiation hazards is communicated to other employees.
Suitable training programmes are outlined in Appendix III.

7.4. SERVICE COMPANIES

Service companies perform radiography, drilling, tracer work, workovers,


well logging, fishing operations, perforations, NORM decontamination,
maintenance and repair, etc. Some of these companies are licensed to possess

87
and use radioactive material and have appointed RPOs (Section 7.3). Others
are not licensed and do not own or use radioactive material but can be involved
in activities in which radioactive material is used. One example of this situation
is the erection of a drill rig or workover rig at the well site during logging or
tracer operations. Another example is when a well logging source becomes
stuck downhole and an unlicensed fishing company is hired to attempt recovery
of the stuck source. In these situations it is the responsibility of the licensed
company to inform the non-licensed company of the radiation hazards and
oversee the radiation protection aspects of the work performed by the
unlicensed company. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the licensed company
to report to the regulatory body any incidents or accidents involving the
radioactive material. The licensed company co-operates with the service
company to ensure that the necessary assessments of the doses received by
workers are made and recorded according to national regulations.

7.5. WORKERS

Educational needs will vary considerably depending on the radiation


application. For many applications, a basic level of education will be sufficient
to understand the need to follow radiation protection instructions.
Radiation protection training is tailored to a particular practice and
designed so that the worker develops the necessary skills to work safely. Basic
training includes an explanation of local rules, safety and warning systems, and
emergency procedures. The depth to which each training subject is to be
covered depends on the specific radiation application and also on the hazards
associated with the application. On-the-job training always needs to be
included. Caution needs to be exercised whenever persons who may not be
engaged in the task involving the exposure are working in the vicinity of
radiation sources and therefore need to be informed beforehand of the
relevant hazards through the provision of appropriate information or training.
The level of work experience needed for workers handling radioactive
material will depend on the specific radiation application. However,
supervision by the person responsible for the area, by the qualified operator or
by the RPO, is always needed.
It is important that workers be familiarized with all radiation signs and
warnings. Workers need to be encouraged to report to the RPO any violation
of a rule or policy relating to radiation protection procedures and to report
immediately any incident, accident or other occurrence likely to adversely
affect radiation protection, health and safety.

88
Appendix I

RADIATION MONITORING IN THE WORKPLACE

I.1. MEASUREMENT PRINCIPLES AND INSTRUMENTS

I.1.1. Principles

A wide range of instruments is available for carrying out workplace


monitoring for ionizing radiation and radioactive contamination [99].
Instruments have not been developed specifically for use at oil and gas
production and processing facilities and no single instrument is capable of
detecting all types and energies of the radiations used in the industry. It is
important to select and make available instruments that are appropriate and
efficient for the different applications. Intrinsic safety to permit use in
flammable atmospheres may be an important requirement for the instruments
used.
Radiation measuring instruments are usually designed to quantify only
one of the two types of potential exposure:

(1) External exposure to penetrating radiation emitted by sources outside


the human body. Such exposures are associated with sealed sources,
unsealed sources such as radiotracers (whether contained or not), bulk
quantities of NORM, and radiation generators or machines.
(2) Internal exposure associated with radioactive materials that are in a form
capable of being inhaled or ingested or which otherwise enter and
interact with the human body. Unesaled sources used as radiotracers,
radioactive material that has leaked from a sealed source, and NORM are
potentially capable of causing internal exposure. Special attention is to be
drawn to the radioactive noble gas radon which may accumulate near the
exit points of sludges, water, mud and other drilling fluids.

Dose rate meters are used to measure the potential external exposure,
whereas dosimeters are used to indicate the cumulative external exposure.
Surface contamination meters indicate the potential internal exposure when
the radioactive substance is distributed over a surface; airborne contamination
meters and gas monitors indicate the potential internal exposure when a
radioactive substance is distributed within the atmosphere.

89
I.1.2. Dose rate meters

A suitable and efficient dose rate meter that is matched to the specific
task is capable of measuring external exposure directly, indicating readings of
the equivalent dose rate in microsieverts per hour. Dose rates of this magnitude
are measured for safety purposes in most situations, such as around source
stores, near installed level gauges or near accumulated NORM. For other
purposes, such as taking measurements on the external surfaces of a transport
package, it is necessary to be able to measure up to several thousand micro-
sieverts per hour and an instrument capable of measuring in millisieverts per
hour is desirable. In some situations, such as when implementing an emergency
plan to recover an unshielded radiography source, a high dose rate range
instrument capable of a continued response where there are dose rates of tens
of millisieverts per hour is needed. In such hazardous situations it is important
that the instrument does not exceed the maximum of its range or, worse still,
overload and give a zero reading. There are many wide range or multirange
instruments covering dose rates of up to several millisieverts per hour and,
particularly when working in remote locations, these may be supplemented by
specialized high range instruments (indicating in sieverts per hour) assigned to
the emergency kit.
Instruments with sensitive probes capable of measuring low dose rate
gamma radiation fields such as the background value at sea level (40–60 nSv/h)
are useful. They can be used for monitoring mud returns when it is suspected
that a sealed source might have ruptured downhole or when it is necessary to
monitor over a wide area to find a lost source or equipment that contains a
gamma source. This type of instrument may also be used to monitor the outside
of equipment to detect the enhanced dose rates that would indicate the
presence of accumulated sludge or scales containing radium. As the shielding
provided by the scale or sludge mass itself and that of the wall of the equipment
can be substantial, it is usually not possible to convert reliably the measured
dose rates either into areal inner surface contamination or activity per unit
mass of scale or sludge. Internal contamination by 210Pb will not be detected by
dose rate meters because all low energy gamma radiation, beta particles and
alpha particles from this nuclide and its progeny are shielded by the intervening
metal. Sensitive detectors are available that incorporate both a dose rate
measuring capability and a gamma spectrometry capability. Gamma
spectrometry enables the radiations that are responsible for the dose rate to be
analysed in terms of the radiation energies present. This characterizes,
unequivocally, the nature of the radioactive substance (identifying it as 137Cs or
226
Ra, etc.) emitting the gamma radiation.

90
The response of any dose rate meter is dependent on the characteristics
of the detector it employs, in particular on its detection efficiency at the energy
(or energies) of the radiation to which it is exposed. An instrument may have
good detection efficiency over a range of radiation energies, reducing to zero
(or nearly zero) efficiency at certain radiation energies perhaps at the range
extremes. If the detection efficiency is poor the instrument will indicate zero
readings whatever the actual dose rate attributable to those radiations. For
example, an instrument that provides an accurate indication of dose rates due
to 137Cs gamma radiation (of an energy of 662 keV) may measure less
accurately the dose rates due to 241Am gamma radiation (of an energy of
approximately 60 keV). A specific detector may only be able to detect
radiation of a certain type or having an energy greater than some threshold
value. The neutron sources used in well logging, typically 241Am–Be, emit both
gamma and neutron radiations that cannot be measured using a single
instrument. Well logging service companies therefore need both gamma and
neutron dose rate meters and to sum the separate measurements to fully
determine external exposure. However, for the routine occasions when
repetitive measurements are made, the gamma measuring instrument alone
will normally suffice to provide adequate confirmation of the whereabouts of
the source and the general condition of the shielded container, etc. The gamma
measurement can be used with a gamma–neutron ratio to obtain the total dose
rate under known exposure conditions. Dose rate measurements should be
averaged over a suitable interval, for example one minute or longer, depending
on whether the prevailing dose rate is apparently constant or transient.

I.1.3. Dosimeters

There are many situations in which workers are exposed and where the
transient dose rates change rapidly with time, for example when a logging
source is being transferred from the shield to the tool, or when a radiography
source is being projected from the exposure container along the projection
sheath. It is not feasible to measure a single dose rate in such circumstances. In
order to assess these situations and provide advice on optimizing radiation
protection measures (applying the ALARA principle), a specialist in radiation
protection may need to make ‘time averaged’ dose rate measurements. For
these an ‘integrating dose rate meter’ is used to assess each exposure and
average the dose over a longer period of time, for example a working day.
There are different types of dosimeter [100] for individual monitoring,
generally designed to be pinned or clipped to clothing, that register the total
dose accumulated over the period of exposure. Individuals involved in well
logging or other tasks that involve the use of neutron sources need to wear

91
dosimeters that will measure both gamma and neutron radiations so that the
total cumulative exposure to these radiations can be assessed. Occupationally
exposed workers must wear a suitable dosimeter and where high dose rates are
possible, such as in radiography, a direct reading dosimeter in addition. Direct
reading dosimeters provide an alarm to indicate a high dose or dose rate in the
event of accidental exposure. The circumstances of the accident would
necessitate further investigation and remedial actions [5].

I.1.4. Surface contamination monitors

Surface contamination monitors are usually designed to measure a


specific type of radiation and often have optimum detection efficiency over a
limited range of radiation energies. For example, the detector may respond
only to alpha particles or gamma radiation or to beta and gamma radiations. It
may perform better in detecting high energy beta particles rather than those of
low energy, or it may be designed to detect low energy gamma radiations but
not those of high energy. It is important to select an instrument that has a
detection efficiency optimized for the radiation (or isotope) of interest. Most
surface contamination monitors indicate in counts/s (or s–1) or counts/min and
the instruments need to be calibrated for the particular radiation being
detected to enable the indicated reading to be converted into meaningful units
such as Bq/cm2. Some instruments are designed either to allow the calibration
response factor to be programmed into the instrument, or to allow the isotope
being used, perhaps as a radiotracer, to be selected from a list on the
instrument so that response is automatically corrected and the reading
displayed directly in Bq/cm2.
One difficulty in quantifying the contamination due to NORM on a
surface is that sludge and scales in which NORM is present contain a mixture of
radioactive substances that are seldom present in the same proportions.
Assumptions need to be made about the NORM that is likely to be measured
so that the likely response of the instrument may be determined in a laboratory.
This may include examining how the monitor responds to an actual sample of
the material.
Another difficulty is that the various substances emit radiations that
differ widely in their capability to penetrate matter. NORM usually emits alpha
particles but these may be stopped from reaching the detector as a result of the
condition of the surface being investigated. NORM incorporating radium
generally emits beta particles and gamma radiation. The beta particles are
significantly attenuated but even at their reduced energies are likely to be
detected by use of an appropriate instrument. Gamma radiations have a much
greater range in matter but any instrument used to measure them would always

92
display a significant background gamma radiation component, particularly if
the surface of interest is close to other accumulations of NORM.
Surface contamination monitors that incorporate either a beta detector
or a combination of separate alpha and beta detectors offer the best options by
which to monitor thin layers of NORM on surfaces. Care should be taken as
most beta detectors are sensitive to gamma radiation; the presence of ambient
gamma radiation that might originate from inside a vessel could in such cases
be misinterpreted as contamination. The use of a beta detector allows
assumptions to be made that are necessary to allow calibration of the
instrument, discriminating against any detectable alpha particles that may be
present when the NORM contains radium and its progeny. While an
instrument that has a combined response to alpha and beta particles may be
calibrated for NORM constituents, interpreting the measurement may be
problematic, depending on the condition of the surface being investigated.
Alpha contamination monitors are intrinsically sensitive to NORM
because they do not respond to gamma radiation and consequently have no
background count rate. However, they are vulnerable to mechanical damage
and cannot be used reliably to measure surface contamination where the
surface is irregular (e.g. uneven or curved) or covered in a thick layer of
NORM-bearing material (which self-absorbs the radiation) or wet (with
degrees of moisture producing variable self-absorption).
A beta contamination monitor will indicate whether NORM is present
within a facility only after access is gained to internal surfaces (Fig. 30). This is
because the beta particles do not penetrate structural materials such as the
steel walls of tubulars and vessels. If beta contamination is detected outside a
system, then the contaminant must be on the external surface of the object
being investigated. It is unlikely that a beta contamination monitor will provide
accurate quantitative measurements of the surface contamination (in terms of
Bq/cm2) because assumptions made about the radioactive constituents of the
contaminant may not be entirely correct and significant self-absorption of the
beta radiation occurs in all but thin layers of contamination. At best, beta
contamination measurements provide a reliable indication of the need for
radiation protection measures and further investigation by sampling and radio-
nuclide analysis. Specially designed instruments may be used in specific circum-
stances to monitor NORM surface contamination. For example, there are
intrinsically safe instruments for use in potentially flammable atmospheres and
a cylindrical form of beta detector may be drawn through the inside of whole
tubulars to check for internal NORM contamination (Fig. 31).
Gamma radiation detectors (either sensitive dose rate meters or contam-
ination meters) may be used to detect accumulations of NORM within plant

93
FIG. 30. NORM contamination within a vessel being measured using a surface
contamination measuring instrument (courtesy: National Radiological Protection Board,
UK).

FIG. 31. Checking tubulars for NORM contamination (courtesy: National Radiological
Protection Board, UK).

94
and equipment and, with appropriate calibration, to measure thick deposits of
NORM surface contamination. Rugged gamma spectrometers may be used in
the field, but it is more likely that samples of the contaminating substances will
need to be submitted to a laboratory for gamma spectrometric analysis to
identify and determine the NORM activity concentrations (in terms of Bq/g).

I.1.5. Contamination monitors for measuring airborne radioactive material

Instruments for measuring airborne contamination are used where there


is a need to assess the risk of radioactive substances either being released into
the atmosphere or resuspended from contaminated surfaces. The instruments
normally draw potentially contaminated air at a constant rate through a filter,
mainly to monitor airborne alpha emitters, including radon progeny. ‘Active
detectors’ are capable of detecting the accumulated radioactive substance on
the filter and initiating an alarm. Rugged, portable, lightweight personal
instruments exist that measure radon levels and provide an acoustic warning
with short reaction times. Samples of natural gas may be taken and measured at
a laboratory to determine the radon content using the Lucas cell method.
Personal air samplers based on the use of a filter may also serve as personal
dosimeters, but as with many of the installed versions, the filter needs to be
assessed elsewhere. These so-called ‘passive detectors’ provide only retro-
spective assessments of the working conditions. The filter papers need to be
handled carefully to ensure that they are kept flat, undamaged and not contam-
inated by contact. These factors, and the need for specialist assessment of the
filters after sampling, limit the usefulness of these instruments in the oil and gas
industry.

I.2. MONITORING STRATEGIES

A sufficient number of suitable and efficient radiation monitoring


instruments need to be provided and used whenever work involves the
production, processing, handling, use, holding, storage, moving, transport or
disposal of radiation sources or radioactive material. They are to be used
according to an overall monitoring strategy. Generally, three levels of expertise
may be recognized: task, routine and special monitoring [1]. Further guidance
on monitoring can be found in Refs [25, 26].

95
I.2.1. Task monitoring

The worker who has day-to-day use of the radiation source or who works
with open sources or NORM performs task monitoring. It is important that the
worker (possibly called a qualified operator) be adequately trained to use the
instruments and to interpret the measurements as part of a standard procedure,
particularly when operations may involve an increased hazard. For example, a
radiation measuring instrument should be used by:

(a) A radiographer to check that a radioactive source has safely returned to


its shielded container after an exposure;
(b) The user of a mobile gauge to check that a shutter has closed after the
gauge has been used;
(c) A well logging engineer to check the safe return of the sources after a
logging tool returns from the well;
(d) A radiotracer technician to check for contamination around high
pressure joints and mixer vessels after injection of the radiotracer;
(e) A NORM worker to check for contamination on clothing before leaving
an area where decontamination work is being carried out;
(f) A technician to monitor the radon level at the exit points of liquids and
gases.

I.2.2. Routine monitoring

In order to oversee, supervise, maintain and keep under review a


programme for monitoring in the workplace, the RPO will normally carry out
routine monitoring. Surveys are conducted at appropriate regular intervals, but
not necessarily to a predictable timetable. The measurements are intended to
confirm the extent of any designated supervised and controlled areas, to prove
the adequacy of measures against external and internal hazards and to reveal
any deterioration in the standard of radiation protection. A record of the
measurements may be kept for an appropriate period, for example two years
from the date on which the surveys are carried out, which will provide confir-
mation of a safe working environment and indicate any trends in the standard
of safety provided. Examples of routine monitoring carried out by RPOs
include the following:

(a) The RPOs of radiography and well logging service companies monitor
their shielded containers and storage conditions.
(b) The RPOs of radiography and well logging service companies monitor to
ensure the correct placement of barriers demarcating controlled areas.

96
(c) The RPO responsible for installed gauges monitors them to ensure that
they are adequately shielded and show no signs of physical damage, and
to confirm that the shutter of the gauge has closed prior to clearing it for
vessel entry.
(d) The RPO of a radiotracer laboratory monitors bench surfaces, waste
disposal routes, storage facilities, etc.
(e) The RPO monitors any transport package for compliance with dose rate
and surface contamination limits prior to labelling the package and
providing relevant documentation.
(f) The RPO of an injection company monitors disused packaging prior to its
disposal by the appropriate route.
(g) The RPO responsible for facilities in which NORM accumulates
measures external dose rates where accumulations occur, monitors the
plant when it is opened for operational reasons and designates the
workplace prior to authorizing entry of workers. An area monitoring
diagram and an on-site measurements record may be used to facilitate
this (Fig. 32).
(h) The RPO responsible for NORM decontamination confirms the success
of measures to contain surface and airborne contamination within the
designated areas.
(i) The RPO responsible for NORM decontamination monitors to
determine whether an item meets clearance criteria prior to its certifi-
cation and release.

FIG. 32. Example of a completed area monitoring diagram.

97
I.2.3. Special monitoring

Special monitoring will normally be carried out by qualified experts


capable of using highly technical instrumentation, interpreting complex
measurements or applying the results in computational methods in order to
reach pertinent conclusions. A report has to be kept detailing the measure-
ments, the conclusions and any recommendations that arise from them. Special
monitoring might also refer to that carried out by a person such as a safety
officer or inspector employed by the oil and gas operators or the regulatory
bodies. The purpose of such monitoring would be to exercise a duty of care for
the overall site or facility, to ensure that safe working practices are followed,
and that there is compliance with regulatory requirements and relevant licence
conditions. Special monitoring might be used in:

(a) Situations involving the use of specialized monitoring instruments to


assess external exposure and optimize protection against unusual
radiation sources with low energy radiations, pulsed or transient
emissions, narrow beams, etc.
(b) Critical examinations, hazard evaluations and risk assessments of novel
equipment and/or non-routine procedures.
(c) Reviews and measurements to determine shielding requirements and QA
assessments of equipment and facilities such as shielded containers,
source storage facilities, transport packages, etc.
(d) Audits and inspections of equipment, facilities, procedures and other
arrangements for compliance with predefined company standards and
regulatory requirements.
(e) Baseline surveys to assess whether NORM is present in an operating
facility. Where the survey is negative it may be repeated triennially or
more frequently when changed operating conditions (e.g. changes in the
salinity of produced water) or other factors indicate the need. A flow
diagram for the assessment of closed systems internally contaminated
with NORM is shown in Fig 33.
(f) Baseline surveys to establish the conditions at a location prior to its
development as a radioactive waste disposal facility.
(g) Situations where NORM is present in operational plant, sampling and
analysis of produced waters, scales, sludge, natural gas, gas condensates,
etc., being carried out, as appropriate, to determine radionuclide and
activity concentrations.
(h) Decommissioning surveys of redundant facilities.

98
Review NORM procedures and regulations

Identify equipment/areas to be surveyed

Obtain radiation measuring instruments:


Calibrated dose rate meter (D)
Calibrated surface contamination meter (C)

Gamma log Use D to survey Use D to survey


Use D to survey
Well tubing closed topside transport/off-
terminals
Strings production flooding systems

Use D to survey Use D to survey


storage decontamination
facilities facilities

Scale samples analysed


Other indicators assessed

Analyses indicate enhanced Dose rates indicate NORM


natural radioactivity accumulations
Record results Record measurements

Comply with rules set down


by regulatory body

FIG. 33. Flow diagram for NORM assessments.

99
(i) Location and recovery of lost sources, damaged sources, etc., following an
incident.
(j) Investigation of accident conditions and provision of specialized
dosimetric methods to determine effective doses and acute partial body
doses.
(k) Obtaining samples and measurements and in the analysis of samples for
presentation as evidence in a legal action.

I.2.4. Other considerations

Some radiation measuring instruments, particularly contamination


monitoring probes, are not robust and may be more suited to the laboratory
environment rather than that of an oil and gas facility. However, there are also
rugged instruments available for on-site contamination measurement and
dosimetry, especially for use with gamma emitting radionuclides and radon.
Superficial repairs are effected easily in the field provided the necessary spare
parts, such as cables and foils to cover the face of the detector, are readily
available. The instruments are normally battery powered and a plentiful supply
of batteries is needed, especially where, for example, an instrument may be in
almost constant use during a facility shutdown and the work is in a remote
location. The battery needs to be tested each time the instrument is switched on
and regularly while it is in use. Units operated with rechargeable batteries or
accumulators will demand regular loading cycles and performance testing. It is
important to have:

(a) A test source of low activity available or at a known location close to a


shielded operational sealed source where the instrument may be placed
prior to its use to confirm that it continues to provide a familiar response.
(b) Every instrument tested at intervals defined by the regulatory body
(usually at least annually) and, where appropriate, calibrated by a
qualified expert. The results of such tests are given on a certificate, a copy
of which is made available to the user.

Work with a radiation source should not proceed without suitable and
efficient radiation measuring instruments being available. It is normally the
responsibility of the service company owning the radiation source to provide
the instrument(s). However, the field operator may want to ensure that an
adequate range and number of appropriate radiation measuring instruments
are available or are provided when mobilizing service companies to undertake
such work.

100
It must be borne in mind that most radiation measuring instruments are
electrical devices operating at high voltage. They may themselves constitute a
risk in areas where there are flammable or explosive conditions. Some dose
rate meters, but very few surface contamination meters, are intrinsically safe
for use in these conditions and their use may need to be subject to prior author-
ization (a ‘hot work’ permit).

101
Appendix II

METHODS FOR THE DECONTAMINATION OF


PLANT AND EQUIPMENT

II.1. INTRODUCTION

Various decontamination methods are being applied on and off the site,
the choice of method depending on the type and size of the components and
the characteristics of the contaminating substance. Methods range from
removal of bulk sludge from vessels (Fig. 34) followed by rinsing with water to
the application of chemical or mechanical abrasive techniques. The methods of
specific operational importance are described briefly below and summarized in
Table VI.

FIG. 34. Removal of bulk sludge from a vessel (courtesy: Atomic Energy Commission of
Syria).

102
TABLE VI. NORM DECONTAMINATION METHODS

Method Comment

Manual removal or Does not involve any machinery and may be as simple as hand
cleaning washing or shovelling. Commonly used for removing sand and
sludge from topside equipment.
Mechanical removal by Commonly used to remove scale (hard deposits) from tubulars
drilling or reaming and other types of surface contaminated equipment.
Wet drilling processes should be used to reduce/prevent
the generation of radioactive dust. Should be enclosed to
contain the contaminants and wash water should be filtered
to remove scale.
HPWJ Commonly used to remove scale (hard deposits) from tubulars
and other types of surface contaminated equipment. Provides
effective scale removal and reduces dust generation by
keeping the material wet. Should be enclosed and wash water
contained, recirculated or filtered to remove scale.
Vacuuming Can be wet or dry processes to remove loose particle
contamination.
Chemical cleaning Using commercially available scale dissolvers. Chemicals are
also used to remove thin films of NORM from gas plant
equipment.
Melting Equipment melting as scrap metal. Most of the NORM ends
up in the slag, but volatile radionuclides end up in the off-gas
dust and fume.

II.2. IN SITU CHEMICAL DESCALING

Chemical methods are applied and are being developed further for
downhole scale removal and scale prevention [53, 54, 101–103]. If scale
prevention has failed and the extent of scaling interferes with production
and/or safety, chemical methods are also applied for removal of scale from the
production system. The chemicals used are based on mixtures of acids or on
combinations of acids and complexing agents. Usually, the primary reason for
in situ descaling is to restore or maintain the production rate rather than to
remove radioactive contamination. Nevertheless, effective prevention of
scaling causes radionuclides mobilized from the reservoir to be carried by the
produced water through the production system rather than being deposited.
Chemical removal of scale also removes the radionuclides contained in the

103
deposits, resulting in a liquid stream containing the radionuclides from the
dissolved scale.

II.3. ABRASIVE METHODS

Dry and wet abrasive methods employing hand-held devices can be


applied to remove scale from easily accessible surfaces of components. Dry
gritting, milling, grinding and polishing are normally to be avoided because of
the risk of spreading radioactive contamination in the air. With wet abrasive
methods, this risk is reduced considerably. Consequently, the application of dry
abrasive methods needs protective measures for workers and the environment,
which can in practice only be provided by specialized companies or organiza-
tions.
HPWJ has been shown to be effective for the decontamination of
components from oil and gas production (Figs 35 and 36). Water pressures of
10–250 MPa are used, which necessitate the use of special pumps and safety
measures. In principle it can be applied on the site and offshore as well as
onshore, but its effective and radiologically safe application needs special
expertise and provisions to obtain the correct impact of the jet, to contain the
recoiling mist and to collect and dispose of the water as well as the scale. HPWJ
is usually applied at a limited number of specialized establishments and service
companies that are authorized to operate decontamination facilities [55].
Decontamination of tubulars is carried out with the aid of long HPWJ lances
fitted with special nozzles that are moved through the whole length of a tubular
while the water with the scale is collected at the open ends (Fig. 37). It is
relatively easy to contain the recoiling water from tubulars. The application of
HPWJ to the outer surfaces of components is strongly complicated by the mist
produced by the impact of the jet. In the open air this will cause the spread of
the radioactive contamination removed from the object and in enclosed spaces
it greatly reduces visibility.

II.4. CHEMICAL DECONTAMINATION

Chemical methods have to be applied when the surfaces to be decontam-


inated are not accessible for mechanical treatment, when mechanical treatment
would cause unacceptable damage to the components being refurbished, and
when the contaminating material is not amenable to mechanical removal.
Usually, components have to be degreased by organic or hot alkaline solvents
prior to chemical decontamination. The chemicals used are acids, alkalis and

104
complexing agents, which are usually applied in agitated baths. Chemical
decontamination results in a liquid waste stream containing the dissolving and
complexing chemicals, and the matrix and radionuclides of the contaminating
material. In many cases, some dissolution of the metal of the component being
decontaminated cannot be avoided.

FIG. 35. Workers with personal protective equipment and HPWJ


lance (courtesy: Atomic Energy Commission of Syria).

105
II.5. MELTING

The melting of metallic components contaminated with NORM will


separate the metals from the NORM nuclides. The latter end up in the slag or
in the off-gas dust and fume. Decontamination by melting is being applied at
dedicated melting facilities, but only on a small scale. The typical processes
involved in the melting of scrap steel are as follows:

FIG. 36. Workers using HPWJ lance (overhead extractor removes


airborne contamination) (courtesy: Atomic Energy Commission of
Syria).

106
(a) Transport to the recycling facility by road, rail or sea, using cranes to load
and offload;
(b) Segmentation, by mechanical or thermal means, into sizes suitable for
melting;
(c) Loading by crane or conveyor into an electric arc or induction furnace
together with iron, fluxes and coke;
(d) Casting of the molten product steel into ingots and mechanized removal
of the slag for disposal or reuse;
(e) Recovery and disposal of dust from the off-gas filters.

FIG. 37. Facility for tubular decontamination by HPWJ (courtesy: Atomic Energy
Commission of Syria).

107
Appendix III

TRAINING COURSES FOR PERSONS WORKING


WITH IONIZING RADIATION IN THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

III.1. INTRODUCTION

The main purpose of training is to provide essential knowledge and skills


and to foster the correct attitudes with regard to the safe handling and security
of sealed and unsealed radiation sources. Individuals who are occupationally
exposed to ionizing radiation, or who may be exposed in the course of their
work, need to receive adequate training in radiation protection. In addition,
there are people who, though they may not be occupationally exposed to
ionizing radiation, need to be trained in radiation protection and safety in order
to perform their duties safely. This Appendix recommends minimum safety
training requirements for the following persons:

(a) RPOs in the oil and gas industry,


(b) Qualified operators,
(c) Workers occupationally exposed to radiation.

The aims and objectives of each training course need to be specified


clearly in advance.

III.2. RPOs

The RPO will need to have had suitable training to supervise effectively
the work with radiation, ensure compliance with national rules and regulations
and put into effect an appropriate response in the event of an emergency. A
broad level of knowledge in radiation protection is needed, including training
in emergency preparedness and response, as well as training in specific areas of
work, e.g. industrial radiography, use of gauges, well logging, radiotracer
studies, decontamination of equipment contaminated with NORM.
As a minimum, the training course needed for an RPO would include the
following topics, to be covered by lectures and practical exercises in a period of
not less than four days:

108
(a) Basic concepts:
(i) Types of radiation,
(ii) Interaction of radiation with matter,
(iii) Radioactive decay,
(iv) Sealed and unsealed sources,
(v) Machines (radiation generators).
(b) Radiological units:
(i) Activity,
(ii) Absorbed dose,
(iii) Equivalent dose,
(iv) Dose rate,
(v) Commonly used prefixes,
(vi) SI and non-SI units.
(c) Dose limitation:
(i) Principles of protection,
(ii) BSS and national dose limits,
(iii) Optimization of protection (ALARA).
(d) Biological effects of radiation exposure:
(i) Biological systems,
(ii) Radiation detriment,
(iii) Stochastic and deterministic effects,
(iv) Acute and chronic exposures.
(e) Protection from external exposure:
(i) Time, distance and shielding.
(ii) Dose rates associated with sources/machines (output).
(iii) Half and tenth value thicknesses.
(iv) Practical aspects of the RPO’s work, e.g.:
— radiography equipment,
— well logging equipment,
— nucleonic gauges,
— radiotracer applications,
— NORM accumulations.
(v) Safety signs and signals.
(f) Protection from internal exposure:
(i) Inhalation, ingestion, absorption of radioactive material;
(ii) Values of dose per unit intake;
(iii) Containment of radioactive materials;
(iv) Personal protective equipment (clothing and respiratory);
(v) Engineered control measures;
(vi) Working procedures and industrial hygiene.

109
(g) Individual (personal) monitoring:
(i) Individual dose monitoring.
(ii) Dose record keeping.
(iii) Types and characteristics of dosimeters, i.e.:
— film badges,
— thermoluminescent dosimeters,
— neutron dosimeters,
— radon dosimeters,
— electronic personal dosimeters (alarms).
(iv) Wearing and care of dosimeters.
(h) Radiation measuring instruments and their use:
(i) Types of radiation monitoring survey instrument:
— surface contamination monitors,
— airborne contamination monitors,
— dose rate monitors.
(ii) Laboratory instruments (e.g. spectrometers) and installed monitors.
(iii) Correct use and care of monitors.
(iv) Testing, calibration and QA.
(v) Frequency of monitoring.
(vi) Record keeping.
(i) BSS and requirements of the relevant regulatory body:
(i) Hazard evaluations and risk assessments,
(ii) Radioactive source accounting and records,
(iii) Storage requirements,
(iv) Controlled and supervised areas,
(v) Role of the RPO,
(vi) Standard operating procedures,
(vii) QA programmes,
(viii) Control of public exposure,
(ix) Health surveillance of workers.
(j) Transport and movement of sources:
(i) Containment of sources.
(ii) Labelling of packages.
(iii) Documentation.
(iv) Accountability.
(v) Vehicle placards, etc.
(vi) Loading vehicles, vessels, aircraft.
(vii) Storage in transit requirements.

110
(k) Radiation accidents and emergency procedures:
(i) Examples of accidents and lessons learned,
(ii) Actions to take in the event of an emergency,
(iii) Use of emergency equipment,
(iv) Contingency plans,
(v) Notification(s),
(vi) Written reports of incidents and accidents.

III.3. QUALIFIED WORKERS

A qualified worker has responsibility for the day-to-day use of sealed


radiation sources, or works with unsealed sources or NORM. The worker must
have a significant level of expertise in this specific area of work, e.g. industrial
radiography, use of gauges, well logging, radiotracer studies, decontamination
of NORM. In addition, in order to exercise responsibility as a qualified worker,
the worker will need to have had a minimum standard of training in radiation
safety. The topics to be covered by lectures and practical exercises will be the
same as those defined for the RPO training course, but will be covered in less
detail. The radiation safety training course for the qualified worker should be
provided over a period of not less than two days.
Radiation protection and safety training needs to be tailored to the
particular application and should be designed so that the worker develops the
necessary skills to work safely. On-the-job training is essential in addition to the
training course.

III.4. GENERAL WORKERS

The amount of radiation safety information, instruction or training


needed for the worker will depend on the extent to which the worker is occupa-
tionally exposed to ionizing radiation. At the most basic level, general workers
will all need induction training to ensure that they are capable of recognizing
and understanding warning signs, signals and barriers. All workers need to
comply with radiation safety instructions given by qualified workers and RPOs.
Workers who are partially involved with radiation, for example
individuals working with gauges (in which the source remains within the
protective housing), industrial radiography assistants and maintenance
personnel, will need further radiation safety training commensurate with their
involvement. The level of training needed will depend on the specific

111
application. However, supervision by the qualified worker or by the RPO is
always necessary.
The radiation safety training provided for workers will be effected by
means of briefings, demonstrations and practical exercises. This will typically
take not less than one hour and not more than eight hours.

III.5. MANAGERS AND SAFETY OFFICERS

Managers and safety officers who are not directly involved in work with
ionizing radiation frequently have a responsibility to co-ordinate or facilitate
the radiation safety objectives of RPOs and qualified workers. The managers
and safety officers are involved in the issue of work permits on the work site.
Therefore, it is essential that these managers and safety officers are knowl-
edgeable as regards radiation safety issues. It is appropriate for managers and
safety officers to receive training equivalent to that of an RPO.

III.6. REFRESHER TRAINING COURSES

Refresher courses are essential for all levels of radiological safety


training. Such refresher training should be provided at appropriate intervals or
as directed by the relevant regulatory body.

112
Appendix IV

METHODS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE CHARACTERIZATION

IV.1. SCALES AND SLUDGES

The radiological characterization of NORM waste will usually demand


nuclide specific analysis by high resolution gamma spectrometry. Only under
certain conditions can reliable estimates of the activity concentration of gamma
emitting nuclides be obtained from the known composition and the readings of
dose rate or contamination monitors on the outside of the waste container.
Samples of sludges and scales need only drying and homogenizing for the
preparation of counting samples. The method allows the determination of
NORM nuclides as summarized in Table VII.
Because the emanation rate of the 226Ra progeny 222Rn from sludges and
scales is usually very low, 226Ra can be measured directly by its 186 keV gamma
photon in all samples with low uranium concentrations. If interference of the
186 keV photon from 235U cannot be excluded, 226Ra has to be measured by its
progeny 214Pb (or 214Bi) and secular equilibrium ascertained either by the low
emanation rate from the sample material or by confinement of the 222Rn in a
gas-tight geometry.
The assessment of the concentration of 210Pb will need correction for self-
absorption of the low energy gamma photon in the sample matrix. Correction
for self-absorption can be based on transmission measurements with a 210Pb
source. The use of flat cylindrical sample geometries allows such transmission
measurements.
Efficiency calibration of the counting system can best be based on
counting, in the same geometry, of reference materials such as IAEA-RGU-1
and IAEA-RGTh-1, which can be obtained from the IAEA [104].
Estimation of 210Po activity concentrations will need time consuming
special analysis involving complete dissolution of the sample matrix, chemical
separation and alpha spectrometry. In practice, secular equilibrium between
210
Pb and 210Po in most sludges and scales is assumed in order to obtain an
estimate of the concentration of 210Po from the gamma spectrometric analysis
of 210Pb. This assumption will not hold, for instance, for the condensates
fraction of natural gas.
Analyses of wastes have to be expressed in a format acceptable to the
regulatory body.

113
TABLE VII. SUMMARY OF GAMMA SPECTROMETRY ON NORM-
CONTAINING SOLIDS FROM THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

Nuclide to be used
Nuclide to be
from the gamma Remarks
measured
spectrum

Ra-226 Ra-226 (186 keV) If no interference from U-235 is expected.


Ra-226 Pb-214 (352 keV) If interference from U-235 is expected. Use
gas-tight geometry if Rn-222 emanates from
matrix.
Pb-210 Pb-210 (46.5 keV) Correction needed for self absorption.
Ra-228 Ac-228 (911 keV)
Th-228 Tl-208 (583 keV) Correction needed for decay chain branching.

IV.2. PRODUCED WATER

Methods applicable to the radiological characterization of produced


water depend on the sensitivity needed and on the radionuclides to be
detected. Secular equilibrium between 210Pb and 210Pb cannot necessarily be
assumed.
At activity concentrations greater than 10 Bq/L, liquid samples
containing 226Ra and 228Ra can be counted without preconcentration provided
the counting system is adequately calibrated, and taking the following into
account:

(a) Determination of 226Ra on the basis of the count rate of gamma photons
of its progeny 214Pb and 214Bi can introduce large uncertainties caused by
coincidence losses that are not easily quantifiable and by 222Rn escaping
from the water sample as well as from the sample holder.
(b) The uncertainties caused by coincidence losses in measuring 214Pb and/or
214
Bi can be avoided if the calibration sources are prepared from the
reference material IAEA-RGU-1 or from a certified 226Ra solution (in a
gas-tight geometry). The calibration factor derived after secular
equilibrium has been obtained is insensitive to coincidences.
(c) Because of the large difference between the emission probabilities of the
186 keV photon from 226Ra (3.5%) and those of the 352 keV and 609 keV
photons from 214Pb (35%) and 214Bi (45%) respectively, the use of the
226
Ra photon for determining 226Ra means improving the sensitivity by a

114
factor of about 10. The sample vessel has to be gas-tight and equilibrium
has to be established before any determination is attempted.
(d) The method is inherently insensitive when used for determining 210Pb
because of the high self-absorption of its low energy photon (46 keV).
(e) When counting liquid samples of produced water, there is a risk of
undissolved matter settling on the bottom of the sample holder closer to
the detector. This can be avoided by gelling the sample with, for instance,
wallpaper glue. Highly saline samples cannot be gelled.

At activity concentrations below 1 Bq/L, the counting efficiency for direct


measurement of 226Ra and 228Ra in produced water will not usually be
sufficient. Consequently, preconcentration will be needed to reduce uncer-
tainties to acceptable levels while maintaining reasonable counting times. High
sensitivities can be obtained using a radium separation technique that involves
the addition of a barium carrier and the co-precipitation of radium and barium
as insoluble sulphate. The activity of samples of several litres can then be
concentrated in a small amount of solid material that can be counted in a small
volume sample geometry close to the detector. At the same time, the precipi-
tation leaves 40K in the stripped water sample, which reduces the background
count rate of the solids containing the radium isotopes. This procedure also
enables the determination of 210Pb at levels less than 1 Bq/L if a stable lead
carrier, in addition to the barium carrier, is added to separate 210Pb by precipi-
tation of insoluble lead sulphate. Self-absorption correction with a 210Pb source
can be carried out as described for scales and sludges, provided a flat cylindrical
geometry is used for counting the precipitate. The use of a small, flat, gas-tight
geometry implies that a thin window N-type high purity germanium detector
will be used for measurement of the low energy photons of 210Pb emitted by the
sample and by the 210Pb source used for self-absorption correction.

115
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124
DEFINITIONS

RADIATION PROTECTION

absorbed dose, D. The fundamental dosimetric quantity D, defined as:


de
D=
dm
where de is the mean energy imparted by ionizing radiation to matter in a
volume element and dm is the mass of matter in the volume element.

contamination. Radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or


gases (including the human body), where their presence is unintended or
undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places.

controlled area. A defined area in which specific protection measures and


safety provisions are or could be required for controlling normal expo-
sures or for preventing the spread of contamination during normal work-
ing conditions, and preventing or limiting the extent of potential
exposures.

effective dose, E. The quantity E, defined as a summation of the tissue equiva-


lent doses, each multiplied by the appropriate tissue weighting factor:
E= Âw
T
T ◊ HT

where HT is the equivalent dose in tissue T and wT is the tissue weighting


factor for tissue T. From the definition of equivalent dose, it follows that:
E= Âw ◊Âw
T
T
R
R ◊ D T,R

where wR is the radiation weighting factor for radiation R and DT,R is the
average absorbed dose in the organ or tissue T.

equivalent dose, HT . The quantity HT,R, defined as:


H T,R = w R ⋅ D T,R

where DT,R is the absorbed dose delivered by radiation type R averaged


over a tissue or organ T and wR is the radiation weighting factor for radi-
ation type R. When the radiation field is composed of different radiation
types with different values of wR the equivalent dose is:
HT = Âw
R
R ◊ D T,R

125
exposure. The act or condition of being subject to irradiation.

half-life. For a radionuclide, the time required for the activity to decrease, by a
radioactive decay process, by half.

ionizing radiation. For the purposes of radiation protection, radiation capable


of producing ion pairs in biological material(s).

NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material). Material containing no


significant amounts of radionuclides other than naturally occurring
radionuclides.

radioactive material. Material designated in national law or by a regulatory


body as being subject to regulatory control because of its radioactivity.

radioactive substance. See radioactive material.

source. Anything that may cause radiation exposure — such as by emitting


ionizing radiation or by releasing radioactive substances or materials —
and which can be treated as a single entity for protection and safety pur-
poses.

supervised area. A defined area not designated a controlled area but for which
occupational exposure conditions are kept under review, even though
specific protection measures and safety provisions are not normally
needed.

OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION

jacket. Steel substructure which supports the above sea level topsides.

Christmas tree. Arrangement of pipes and valves at the wellhead, which con-
trols the flow of oil and gas and prevents blow-outs.

condensate. The heaviest fraction of natural gas liquid (hydrocarbons which


can be extracted as liquids from natural gas in gas processing plants or
from gas field facilities). It may exist in the producing formation either as
a liquid or as a condensable vapour.

126
platform. Fixed or floating structure from which wells are drilled or oil or gas
produced.

produced water. Water produced in the form of vapour or liquid with crude oil
and natural gas. The liquid water may be free or emulsified.

reservoir rock. Porous rock containing interconnected pores or fissures in


which oil or gas are found.

scale. Solid deposit of low solubility sulphates or carbonates on the inside of


components of gas and oil production installations.

separator. A pressure vessel used for separating well fluids produced from oil
and gas wells into gaseous and liquid components.

skimmer tank. Tank or vessel used to separate, by gravity, hydrocarbons from


water and solids.

sludge. Mixture of organic and mineral solids in water and liquid hydrocarbons
separated from oil or gas at production facilities.

topside. The entire superstructure of a platform, normally consisting of produc-


tion equipment and facilities, accommodation, ‘helideck’, etc.

well. A hole drilled in rock from the surface to the reservoir in order to explore
for, or extract, oil or gas.

wellhead. Control equipment fitted on top of the well and consisting of outlets,
valves, blow-out preventers, etc.

127
CONTRIBUTORS TO DRAFTING AND REVIEW

Al-Masri, M.S. Atomic Energy Commission of Syria,


Syrian Arab Republic

Al-Taifi, I.M.A. Permanent Mission, Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Austria

Bennet, P. North Sea Instruments Ltd, United Kingdom

Cardwell, T. Texas Department of Health, United States of America

Conlon, P.J. International Atomic Energy Agency

Fawaris, B.H. TNRC, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Gustafsson, M. International Atomic Energy Agency

Guy, M.S.C. ALARA Consultants, South Africa

Heaton, B. Aberdeen University, United Kingdom

Holland, B. Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization,


Australia

Kustiono, A.S. Nuclear Energy Control Board, Indonesia

Lancee, P.F.J. NAM Assen, Netherlands

Massera, G. International Atomic Energy Agency

McGregor, R.G. Health Canada, Canada

McKenna, T. International Atomic Energy Agency

Mohd Ali, H. Atomic Energy Licensing Board, Malaysia

Omar, M. Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research,


Malaysia

Oresegun, M. International Atomic Energy Agency

Orr, D. Scottish Environment Protection Agency, United Kingdom

Othman, I. Atomic Energy Commission of Syria,


Syrian Arab Republic

Pope, R. International Atomic Energy Agency

129
Seitz, R. International Atomic Energy Agency

Strand, T. Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, Norway

van Weers, A. Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group, Netherlands

Vaziri, M. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran,


Islamic Republic of Iran

Westmeier, W. Gesellschaft für Kernspektrometrie mbH, Germany

Wheatley, J. International Atomic Energy Agency

Wheelton, R. National Radiological Protection Board, United Kingdom

Wrixon, A. International Atomic Energy Agency

Wymer, D.G. International Atomic Energy Agency

Yusko, J. International Atomic Energy Agency

Consultants Meetings

Vienna, Austria: 15–19 September 1997, 30 November–4 December 1998,


6–10 December 1999, 11–13 December 2000,
28–29 November 2001, 10–12 June 2002

Technical Committee Meeting

Vienna, Austria: 31 May–4 June 1999

130